Sunday, June 15, 2008
Persecuting through legal means
The following statement has been released by a group of academics and activists to condemn the harassment of political psychologist, Ashis Nandy, for his article and to demand the withdrawal of spurious charges levied against him.
"We write to protest in the strongest possible terms against the charges of criminal offence levied against Ashis Nandy, a political psychologist, sociologist and an internationally renowned public intellectual of the highest caliber. This is the latest case of harassment of intellectuals, journalists, artists, and public figures by antidemocratic forces that claim to speak on behalf of Hindu values sometimes and patriotism at other times, especially in Gujarat, but who have little understanding of either. What is pernicious in this case is that the charge of criminal offence against Nandy levied under Section 153 (A) and (B) for his newspaper article “Blame the Middle Classes” , was brought by the head of the Gujarat Branch of the National Council of Civil Liberties. The State Government of Gujarat by giving its permission for filing the case has shown its own complicity in the case.
"It seems part of the strategy of the most intolerant sections of Indian society today to make a cynical use the language of civil liberties to achieve ends that are the opposite of what the aspirations to civil liberties and the struggles over them represent. The harassment of well-known intellectuals and artists hides we fear, the daily intimidation being faced by members of minorities and especially the Muslims in Gujarat. We demand that all the charges against Professor Nandy be immediately dropped. We understand that there is a great deal of anxiety in Gujarat today about its lost honour. It might help to remind ourselves that this honour or “asmita” will not be gained by acts of violence and intimidation but by recovering or discovering the humanity of each other. Gujarat can and will regain its own destiny by remembering the politics of nonviolence, as one of its sons by the name of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi once taught the nation and the world."
IN an earlier post on what it means to be a liberal Indian, this blog had the occasion to discuss this issue threadbare, especially Section 153-A and 153-B. Readers are welcome to revisit that debate here.. This article by Nandy in Little Magazine on Gujarat helps the reader get an insight into Nandy's thinking on the subject. The list of signatories to the statement is here. The editor of the Times of India, Gautam Adhikari has replied to the critics of Nandy's article in this column. Nandy's interview to Outlook can be read here.