ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A New Normal with No Room for Dissent

The ruling government has failed all tests of reason and reasonability in its treatment of anti-CAA protests.

 

The government at the centre and its extended arm, particularly the state government in Uttar Pradesh (UP), do not seem to engage with protests against the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in the spirit of democratic practice. More recently, a number of hoardings have been put up across Lucknow identifying those accused of violence. The posters include the photographs, names, and addresses of those accused. This follows from the UP chief minister reportedly stating that he would “take revenge” and recover compensation for the damages caused during the 19 December 2019 protests that turned violent. In the same week, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry imposed a 48-hour ban on two Malayalam channels, Asianet and MediaOne TV, for their coverage of the Delhi riots. It is important to note that these actions by the state are not conventional measures, but a systematic targeting of the voices of dissent. The state appears to be not only vindictive in its intent, but has gone ahead in some cases to exact “revenge” against dissenters. This has become the new normal of democracy in India.

Can we paint a picture of reason and reasonability if we take a look at some of the ways in which the ruling dispensation has tried to tackle dissent, specifically against the CAA? Anti-CAA protests have been met with the brutal force of the state, especially in Lucknow and Delhi. At other times, the government has tried to quell the protests by randomly imposing Section 144, and detaining protestors and taking down their names, thus creating an environment of fear, especially for the younger generation of protestors. Protesting has, on many occasions, been referred to as an “anti-social,” “anti-national” activity, a narrative propounded by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers who have incited violence and encouraged people to take the law into their hands by declaiming the “goli maaron saalon ko” slogan. However, no action is taken against such hate speech by a law and order machinery that is obedient to a government that is more interested in carrying out “revenge” against dissenters.

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Updated On : 20th May, 2020

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