This blog is stupidly named scoldsbridle. When we were still in the process of creating it, we thought it made a lot of sense. It came from a string of discussions and thoughts that were said within closed walls and select settings, thoughts that we knew would offend and declared radical by most people. I look through the posts from the last few months now and realise none of us are saying what we say in our texts to each other, phone conversations and long mails that we spend hours mulling over. What is it? The fact that this is now read by people outside our safe setting? That our chosen anonymity has become a more enforced one?
I sent a text a while ago to a fellow writer on the blog,” The JNU arrests.’…’, I am so restless here. What on earth is happening in the country.” I went through several news articles and scrolled down to see the comments, most ask for the students to be hanged, be given life imprisonment; “Do the students ever study or just protest..?” . There are articles that suggest outrage at the arrests, but the comments veer in the opposite direction. The lot of them seem to think there is terror spreading through the country, but they believe it comes from these dissenters. I am terrified too. I am terrified of how just how many people believe that dissent goes against the principles of a democracy. There is a strange vein of nationalism spreading through India and it refuses to be punctured by resistance, however strong it might be. When I sent that text to my friend, I had no intention of writing this post. Then I took a couple of minutes to register just how many times I’ve stopped myself from writing. The self-censorship evident through all the posts in this blog is appalling. I stick to the anonymity, but I do not want to continue writing cryptic messages and veiled thoughts.
I cannot rely on the newspapers for the truth, so in time I might come back to correct-not retract- some of what I am about to say. So far, I have gleaned that there were ‘anti-national’ slogans raised at a JNU meeting that discussed the hanging of Afzal Guru. Following an FIR filed on sedition charges against the students who attended the meeting, the JNUSU leader was arrested and several others named were absconding. Some other students have also been suspended from the university. The ABVP are protesting the meeting and ask for the students to be expelled. Meanwhile another protest is taking place that asks for the JNUSU leader to be released. What did the JNUSU leader say about this? This meeting was not organised by the JNUSU. He believes in the Indian constitution and that Kashmir is an integral part of India. He does not support such events. He only went to break up the fight that ensued between the ABVP and the students at the meeting(supposedly a group headed by Hurriyat leader, Geelani).
Now, I am absolutely appalled that sedition charges were filed, that arrests took place, that the police are swarming the University and that so many people feel the students must be dealt with harshly- And Smriti Irani…for heaven’s sake, stop saying ‘Mother India!’ -But I am also pretty unsettled by what the JNUSU leader is saying, if this person is indeed making these statements. Kashmir is an integral part of India *shakes head*. I do not support such anti-national activities *shakes head*. Cooperating to identify the university students who attended the event *shakes head*. If you cannot say the constitution is flawed, if you cannot claim a lack of belief in the State, if you cannot feel safe to criticise, condemn or even express absolute disdain for the state of affairs in your own country, then that’s one hell of a scary place to live and democracy is a dystopian ideal. And really the AISF then is starting to sound remarkably like the ABVP. Distancing from the students who were actually at the meeting doesn’t make strong claims for righteous anger against intolerance.
After a considerably long time, I am writing in a fit of anger and might in a while rethink some or most of this. But before I am fitted with a scolds bridle, this slew of statements needs to be out there and needs to stay out there.