Killing dissent

By Prof K Nageshwar | THE HANS INDIA |   Sep 07,2017 , 02:49 AM IST


The heinous murder of eminent journalist and public intellectual Gauri Lankesh is a reflection of extreme levels of intolerance that are on the ascent in the recent past. This killing is not an isolated incident. It follows the familiar pattern in which other rationalists like Govind Pansare, Narendra Dhabolkar and MM Kalburgi were assassinated.

The failure of the State to identify and punish the killers and their patrons emboldened such forces to carry out yet another brutality. The murder of noted journalist and citric is only an attempt to silence dissent and criticism of established ideas.

The Constitutional values of scientific thinking, rational thought and action are butchered at the altar of religious bigotry, theocracy.

Societies have progressed only when they have the inherent capacity to question themselves. Such critical minds are, therefore, essential to the further advancement and modernisation of social thought and action.

Dissent is integral to democracy. Plurality of voices is an essential element of libertarian societies.  Freedom of expression is the Constitutional guarantee for every citizen.  Sinister forces that are hell-bent on promoting divisive agenda cannot accept such glorious traditions of freedom and liberty.

Physical annihilation of rationalists cannot in anyway stifle such thinking. Ideas cannot be killed. The history of human civilisation is replete with illustrations of how gruesome attempts to strangulate ideas miserably failed despite inflicting irreparable loss at that point in time.

The attack is not aimed at one individual. It is an orchestrated effort to silence voices of criticism by creating a fear psychosis. But, silencing of journalists, critics and activists has dangerous portents for Indian democracy. Obscurantism and conservatism that fail to win over the reason and rationality through debate and discussion intend to physically eliminate individuals espousing such thought and liberal values.

Question or not to question can never be the question. An idea, however unpalatable it may be, should be allowed to stand for scrutiny rather than stifling it through violence. India is the land of rich and argumentative tradition. Myriad schools of thought were propagated and promoted in this ancient land. The civilisational values of this nation cannot be held ransom to the machinations of sectarian forces who have vested interest in denying the debate.

Rule of law cannot be allowed to succumb to unholy forces which want to dictate to the society through their brutal force. The political system and the civil society should unite to frustrate the evil designs of those who want to destroy the democratic fabric of India.

Freedom of expression, freedom of thought, right to dissent and right to question should prevail over the inhuman acts of non-state actors flourishing under the abject failure of the State to curb such forces in the society.

The criminal justice system should show its efficacy in this crucial hour to send the right message to such perpetrators of violence. The climate of hate mongering that breeds such cult of violence should be defeated to uphold tolerance of divergent views.

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