When freedom becomes a blight spot in democracy, secular Indians grow tired and scared to protest

We are secular Indians. We believe in democracy, but we are tired and scared to continue protesting against the systematic encroachment of our fundamental rights.

Yesterday, MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur said that she and her team would read the script before saying yes to any film to look for malicious content about the ‘Sanatan Dharma‘. While speaking to a national news channel, she also added that films standing in contrast to the ‘Sanatan Dharma’ would not be allowed to shoot even.

Listening to this, let’s pray that she had never heard about Indian Constitution and its principles. If the comment was made after knowing (if not reading) the founding principles of the nation mentioned in the Constitution, then all I can say is that happy days are eagerly waiting for us. We all would be joyfully dancing at the funeral event of our fundamental rights if it is at all surviving till now. Thanks to our lucky stars, it is just a statement.

The majority of Indians does not support the open welcoming of the blatant prophecy of following a national religion. But the rampant and repeated cries of a national religion has made us all very tired and frustrated. This tiredness is feeding on our fear of death and severe punishment. Thus, we have stopped ‘zordar’ protests against it. 

We are scared to protest!

Arrests made under the sedition law and UAPA Act has rampantly increased in the subcontinent after the saffron party came to power. Despite being old and suffering from diseases, the activists were arrested. Activists Father Stan Swamy was arrested under an anti-terror law in the Elgar Parishad case. He did not get necessities like proper medicines in jail. A pregnant JNU student was arrested without substantial proof for alleged incitement of violence in the national capital. Kudos to these people! But this fearless population of secular Indians are shrinking gradually.

Let’s face it! India is a lower-middle-class income nation that has been warned about the impending severe hunger crisis in the report titled ‘Global Hunger Index 2021’. Most of the secular Indians are still battling the pandemic-induced economic crisis. Many have lost their jobs and are looking for ways to provide their family with one square meal. In this situation, commoners are mostly scared about imprisonment as employment and political prisoners had never crossed paths.

I am a woman who is more scared of rape than muzzling of my voice

In a few pockets of the country, crime against women and minorities are increasing rapidly. Rape threats to Dalit women have become a common news topic today. It is great to see that few preachers of national religion are protesting against the arrest of the accused. BJP’s state secretary and the right-wing Hindu Ekta Manch had carried out protests in Jammu’s Kathua district demanding the release of a rape accused special police officer. What is appalling is that the victim was an eight-year-old minor nomad girl. This incident is enough to send chills across the nation about women safety.

The Hathras incident victim’s family members were threatened not to speak to the media. They are still living under constant state vigilance, according to the reports. In such a situation, no one of us would allow our mothers, daughters, and sisters to go and speak about the oppression. Even if their quality of life is comparable to a dead tree, we are happy to see them alive and roaming freely and silently within the perimeters of their homes.  

I am a minority, and I am happy to be allowed to stay in India!

Today while speaking about any religious minority person, we have to be careful not to be branded as mere minority sympathizers. The unvoiced sentiment of supremacy has already started eroding secularism and tolerance towards minorities. It is worthy to note that religious minorities mean people who are less in numbers in India. They are not necessarily Islam followers or Christians, therefore no benefit of the doubt. A Hindu Dalit is also a religious minority.

In India, it is common to see a particular community being a minority in one region and a majority in another. For example, Bengalis are a minority in Assam and a majority in West Bengal. Recently, stories about minority oppression in Assam had shocked the nation.

Therefore, the minority in a particular Indian state are left at the mercy of its majority population. This fragmentation has caused deeper division and settling of fear. If a secular Indian is under constant threat, how can they protest against a national cause like Freedom of speech and expression?

Whom shall we blame for such a situation?

We should be blamed for such a situation, no one else. Democracy gives us the right to choose our rulers. We have exercised our right by voting and choosing our ruler. The last national polls witnessed a single party winning the maximum majority. Our choice of an opposition-less government has put us into this situation. 

How many of us have read the election manifesto before going out to vote and posting pictures on the internet? A majority of us don’t even know about the impending national problems. We do not know about the current relationship between India and its neighbourhood. 

Social media feed us our daily event briefs. Needless to say that social media is already facing the heat of propagating violence-inciting and hate-mongering content. We seldom cross-check the facts propagated by social media, which has cost our habit of questioning and seeking answers from our MPs and MLAs, leading to such a situation.

Sayantika Bhowal

Sayantika Bhowal is a news connoisseur who is particularly interested in politics and human interest stories. She holds More »
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