Counter Strike
My take on the things and events in the world.

Taslima Nasreen Vs "Secular" India

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What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.

How true is this statement by Salman Rushdie! I have neither read Lajja nor Dwikhandito. I am also aware that that these works of art might offend some Muslims or other people in general. If that is so, we should protest in peaceful and civilized manner like grown up gentlemen. A work of art or a book is just a version of the world by its writer's perspective. Truth is one but everyone sees that truth differently. If you don't like someones views, come up with your own version, argue and show the world how your perspective is better. That is how a progressive and open civil society should work.

But the actual point here wasn't the views expressed by Taslima Nasreen in her books that she even took back after those planned demonstrations. The point is that how these communal forces (read CPIM and Congress) used these religious sentiments to divert media attention from a public movement in Nandigram and then in Kolkata. The real tragedy is that Muslims allowed them to manipulate their religious sentiments and we as a "secular" civil society watched the show helplessly. Worse, those who did this, are now claiming to be the champions of Muslim cause. This, according to me, is a complete and collective failure of the system and society.

Both her books have been in print for long and she too has been living in India for a some years now. So what happened suddenly? Answer is Nandigram (see The Ugly Face of Communism in India). When people started protesting in Kolkata against violence in Nandigram and media stated reporting it in a big way, CPI/CPIM staged these protests against Taslima Nasreen and drove her out of Kolkata. Our central government wasn't war behind. She calls the place she was kept in as "the chamber of torture and death" and has accused government officials and our revered foreign affairs minister and second in command after PM, Mr. Pranabh Mukharjee of mental harassment. GOI made mockery of even basic spirit of human values by not even allowing Mrs Nasreen to see a doctor by citing security reasons. And this ultimately forced Mrs Naseen to take the step that they wanted.

Incident after incident, governments in India are bowing to communal elements and our constitutional institutions have failed to up held the secular spirit that our forefathers enriched in the constitution. Be it Gujrat riots or this latest episode, we are just serving the interest of extremist elements of different communities. We are undermining moderate voices. This not secularism, not even schudo secularism, this is blatant communalism, religious extremism, right on the face. The interesting thing is that we just change our sides based on our interests and our cowardice. Sometimes we align ourselves with Advani and co to bring down Babri mosque and never take any action and at some other time we harass, torture and throw out a liberal writer out of the country.

You took the right decision to leave India, Mrs Nasreen. India is no longer an open and progressive society. We are now becoming a model failed state that doesn't follow its own laws but is governed by diktats of fundamentalist of every religion and cast. She herself described the situation after leaving India as:

"A person who couldn't be scared by fundamentalists has been defeated by cold-blooded state terrorism inflicted by the Indian government. My terrible experience has shattered all my notions about a secular, democratic India.”

So has mine! Sadly, I no longer consider India a secular country after watching and analyzing the political developments in last 15-20 years. Right from Shah Bano case to Babri demolition, and from Gujrat massacre to Taslima's exile. It is a shame for all those who call themselves secular and liberal but don't have the guts to take a stand to defend it. Shame on you CPIM, shame on you UPA and shame on you India for being such a spineless communal state.

In the end, instead of Ghalib, I would like to quote actor Nana Patekar's dialog that captures my rage and frustration more appropriately:

Saala ek machhar aadmi ko hijra bana deta hai.



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