charlie hebdo

Shirin Dalvi shame: Jinhe naaz hai secularism par wo kahaan hain

Shirin Dalvi, who was the Mumbai bureau chief of the Urdu daily Avadhnama till two weeks ago, has lost her job and is being prosecuted by the authorities and persecuted by her own community. Her crime? On 17 January, Avadhnama published an image of Charlie Hebdo’s ‘Je Suis Charlie’ cover. On 22 January, Thane police booked and arrested her “for outraging religious feelings” with “malicious intent” under Section 295 A of the IPC. Now, she is hiding behind a burqa.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also holds the Home portfolio and belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party which has long inveighed against ‘pseudo-secularism’ and ‘Muslim appeasement.’ But, once in power, the party has succumbed to the same political proclivities it had earlier railed against.

No less hypocritical is the stance, or the lack of it, of our voluble media worthies, academics, and other sham champions of the freedom of expression. They are silent; not many newspapers and channels have highlighted the issue; and there is certainly no big debate, as it ought to be, anywhere. Eager to defend creative freedom when the subject is M.F. Husain, now they have turned a blind eye to the fate of a woman journalist.

Dalvi told The Indian Express (February 3):

“It was a clear news story. If you write about the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo, you also need to publish a relevant picture with it. That image has been printed in the Indian media in several places, but I am being singled out.”

Here is a woman whose fundamental right (Article 19, which says that all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression) has been infringed upon. She is being harassed both by the state as well as the society; and there is hardly any reaction, let alone outrage. She rightly pointed out that the supposedly offensive image was printed earlier in the Indian media. That the authorities did not prosecute other journalists shows that the act of publishing the supposedly offensive picture did not violate the constitutionally prescribed “reasonable restrictions” on the freedom of expression.

I find any kind of curbs on free speech as obnoxious; they render us not free but almost free—a state akin to being almost virgin. But, undesirable as they are, restrictions prescribed in the Constitution are still “reasonable.” That some tetchy characters get offended by something can never constitute reasonableness, for the simple reason that terms like offence and sentiments are subjective and reasonableness is objective.

In the case of Shirin Dalvi, legal action against her is not only obnoxious but also arbitrary. Many people separately decide to do something and they do that, but government chooses only one person for the act. This is little better than a witch-hunt.

I find any kind of curbs on free speech as obnoxious; they render us not free but almost free—a state akin to being almost virgin.

Dalvi has also received threats. “My children have my old phone and they told me that someone has been sending messages through WhatsApp, saying “Maafi nahin milegi (You won’t get forgiveness),” she said.

Her plight, the rape of liberty, the arbitrariness of law-enforcement agencies, and the terror of Islamists in the Muslim community do not enrage our intellectuals. They decide to keep mum.

Equally thunderous is the silence of the Javed Akhtars, the Shabana Azmis, the Farah Naqvis, the Salman Khurshids—the folks who pass off as ‘moderate Muslims.’ Are the unaware of the plight of a 46-year-old lady who has been targeted by cops, hounded by her own community, and forced to wear a burqa for the first time in her life?

Our intellectuals and ‘moderate Muslims’ don’t tire waxing eloquent about such ideas as women empowerment and freedom of expression. They also pontificate about the need to confront and combat obscurantism, fanaticism, fundamentalism, etc. But when push comes to shove, they are usually found AWOL. They preach the virtues of secularism all the time, but when Islamism rears its ugly head, they are nobody to be seen. Paraphrasing Sahil Ludhianvi, one feels like saying: “Jinhe naaz hai secularism par wo kahaan hain…”

Ravi Shanker Kapoor is a journalist and author. He upholds freedom of expression, individual liberty, free market, and open society. He is an uncompromising opponent of Islamism, communism, and other totalitarian ideologies. He is also a critic of intellectuals, as evident from his third book, How India’s Intellectuals Spread Lies (Vision Books).
  • Kejruddin Owaisi meme

    Secularist Henchmen’s version of freedom of speech/ expression:
    Hail MF Hussain’s nude art of Hindu goddesses but condemn Danish cartoonist of Mohd.
    Hail PK’s denigration of Hindu gods, idol worship but seek ban on MSG, Da Vinci Code etc
    Condemn Taslima but promote Perumal’s anti Hindu literature
    Ban Satanic verses, condemn Salman Rushdie while heckling Sitaram Goel’s History books
    Support AIB knockout but condemn Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
    Condemn, Hound Shireen Dalvi for her “crime” of reprinting Hebdo cartoons!!!

    The list is long which nails these socalled ‘urbane, secular, liberal’ Indians, they are pseudo secularists out to destroy us.

    What is the biggest criminal in this particular case? Its BJP govt headed by a darpok Fadnavis who cannot stand by the Law. He allowed PK citing it got Censor clearance, but he now failed to protect Woman’s rights, right to FoE.

    There is nothing to blame on constitution, if laws are applied differently to different people. BJP Gov dont have guts to bring UCC, let it atleast show spine to implement existing laws to all equally, without bowing to pressure from Jamaatis. I wonder, what MHA, PMO doing

  • Kalavai Venkat

    The problem is India’s constitution is one of the most pathetic. It is an imitation of colonial law. It lacks vision and guiding principles. It doesn’t safeguard liberty. It is not a constitution that can be reformed. It has to be rejected outright and supplanted with a new constitution. In the interim, one could use the U.S. constitution as the stop gap measure and apply it retrospectively to all pending cases. Indian legal system is also pathetic and the judges and lawyers are ignoramuses – for the most part. Even a simple case takes years to get adjudicated. So, in the interim, one should think of outsourcing judiciary to judges and lawyers trained in the West with the Indian-trained judges and lawyers working as apprentices. A select team of individuals with a strong sense of dharma and possessing intelligence and erudition should be tasked with writing a new constitution which should be an improvement on the U.S. constitution.

    • Atanu_Dey

      “The problem is India’s constitution is one of the most pathetic. It is an imitation of colonial law.”

      To be more precise, the Indian Constitution is a colonial institution. The British Raj created it, with minor modifications from the constituent assembly. Indians were not free under British Raj, and what replaced it in 1947 is what I call “British Raj 2.0.”

      Indians are still not free. Sure, they vote but that is the freedom that slaves can be given to chose their masters. Democracy does not equal liberty.

      I too have been arguing that the Indian constitution needs to be replaced. Will that happen? No, not without enlightened leadership.

    • GlobalArya

      This has nothing to do with the constitution but rather, the tendency to implement it selectively. Our constitution does guarantee the freedom of speech so why was that freedom of speech stifled in this case?? that is the question. And and the answer is – pseuso-secularism aptly referred to as “sickularism” that our nation suffers from courtesy the anti-Hindu, minority appeasement policies of the government (mostly congress). This has made the system in India primarily a leftist, ultra-liberal system. By system I mean, judiciary, politics and most importantly the oligarchs and the harvard/oxford/columbia educated and funded senior editors/directors of MSM (TOI, HT, The Hindu..etc.)

      That is why any news that negatively affects the minority is blown out of proportion regularly but if the majority (Hindus) rights are trampled, that doesn’t even get a mention in the MSM. Case in point is the MSM media coverage on conversions, the conversions out of Hinduism have been going on for a very long time using covert methods and there has been very little coverage let alone hue and cry over it. And now for once, the Hindus are putting their foot down, suddenly this becomes a national calamity and Congress along with the crony Commies decided to do a walk out in Rajya Sabha over it. The SELECTIVE application of constitution and secularism is the REAL PROBLEM.

      The institutions and people that support this “sickular” system URGENTLY needs to be REPLACED with secular and fair institutions and people that use the SAME YARDSTICK for everyone. That is the ONLY SOLUTION to make India and it’s governance systems in tune with the aspirations of the majority of Indians.

  • Radha Rajan

    Send this to Modi, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Ajit Doval.