Context

“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes a special privilege.” ( Rosa Luxemburg)

In my view, Rosa Luxemburg remains very significant figure in contemporary Indian political scenario. This is the high time where social democrats like students, civil rights activists, advocate, journalists and even doctors, poets who have continuously harassed and denounced as a traitor for democracy. In this respect, undoubtedly, the political incarceration of the social democrats such as students and civil rights activists primarily and their continuous detention under pre-trail investigation seems as a warning to India’s vibrant civil society that the state is no longer ready to take criticism anymore. Regular denial of bail plea[i] of these political prisoners unravels the discriminatory intent of the state towards them. Even in some of the cases, government has failed to bring the charges to court and start the trial. Although, the Supreme Court[ii] has issued an order to decongest jails because of health concerns related to COVID-19, protest leaders continued to be detained. Therefore, it reflects the extent of fear these social democrats has produced for the government in power. As extra-judicial killing in form of police encounter does not fit in case of these political prisoners, government has opted continuous detention and harassment for repression. In this regard, imposing the charge of preventive detention under National Security Act (NSA) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is indeed a revealing tool for suppressing the dissent by using the brutal power of statecraft.

Reframing political philosophy

Here I would like to draw our keen attention towards two recent incidents of overruling of law and order by police in so-called democratic India which is no longer showing any democratic feature. At one hand, Delhi Minorities Commission’s fact finding report[iii] on Delhi riots which is released on 16th July, 2020 mentioned that chronology in Delhi police charge-sheet omits BJP leader’s incendiary public speech into account of Delhi election. This report also revealed the Shaheen Bagh protest as peaceful and a spontaneous reaction to the police violence meted out to the students of Jamia on 15th December, 2019. The second incident was of course, the premeditated murder of gangster Vikas Dubey which is clearly a case of extra judicial killing by UP police.

This is however, the result of the repoliticization of political philosophy which is no longer based on the idea of liberal egalitarianism. Katrina Forester[iv] wrote “politics is changing, as radical movements and new oligarchs battle in landscape shaped by uncountable financial institutions, new media platforms, technological transformation, and climate change.” So the way the state is responding to the social democrats it recalls one of the quotes from George Orwell’s[v] book “thoughtcrime doesnot entail death, thoughtcrime is death”. That book is a political satire in which thoughtcrime is the worst rebellious sin that a person can commit against the state. Thoughtcrime can be holding a free speech, conversation, writing or anything that can be posed as going against the agenda of Big Brother (symbolizes the controlling figure of the state). The statecraft has power to keep eye on every aspect of human lives and also to manipulate their psyche. There is no free will and history is re-written to meet the state’s needs. So obviously, these social democrats and more precisely the political prisoners committed a thoughtcrime and state’s inaction for repression eventually results the death of democracy.

Recovering Indian Democracy

Independent institutions such as free media, independent bureaucracy and independent judiciary are supposed as the pillars of democracy which prevents becoming of its authoritarian regime overpowered. In the present context of the Indian political scenario, Ramachandra Guha raised an open question that whether the institutional independence and ethos of Indian democracy can ever recover from Modi’s years in power which has now become “election only” democracy. I think in response to this, Prashant Bhusan’s idea[vi] to restore the rule of law is the most significant one where he wrote the recent killing of Vikas Dubey in police encounter is perhaps the last wake-up call for our democracy and the judiciary to reestablish the fact that the republic of India is governed by the rule of law and protected by an independent judiciary.

K Nidhi (Research Scholar), G.B,Pant Social Science Institute, Prayagraj

E-mail- nidhimads@gmail.com

 

[i] https://thewire.in/rights/pinjra-tods-devangana-kalita-natasha-narwal-denied-bail-again-in-delhi-riots-case

[ii] https://thewire.in/diplomacy/united-nations-experts-india-anti-caa-activists-arrests

https://thewire.in/rights/varavara-rao-release-academics-statement

[iii] https://www.thequint.com/news/india/delhi-minorities-commission-fact-finding-report-delhi-riots-bjp-jamia-shaheen-bagh?fbclid=IwAR3x-MmVXZ0MGUte6i3Xrgf_n5x9Mx2Q0FejjjY1zHBkGYdZ8chx3o0X9XY

[iv] Forrester, K. (2019). “In the Shadow of Justice”, Princeton University Press: New Jersey.

[v] Orwell,G. (). “Nineteen Eighty-four”.

[vi] https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/a-chance-to-restore-the-rule-of-law/article32132123.ece?fbclid=IwAR2xLYQK_MYzXMb9yK4wdSA455LMkbflmYHJ5QkqnJwYNlgrcL2Jb9lZalo


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