TWO FRIENDS ROHAN AND ATUL MEET IN A PARK AND THEY DISCUSS THE RECENT INCIDENT AT RAMJAS COLLEGE.
Atul – I had gone to my aunt’s home for a week.
Rohan – you must be all energised now after a week long holiday.
Atul – I am all energised but there is something hurting me.
Rohan – what is it?
Atul – I do not know!
Rohan – I doubt that. We always know what hurts us, it’s only that we do not want to acknowledge it.
Atul – I feel horrible, I see my country going to the dogs and I can’t do a thing. I feel so helpless.
Rohan – well that is a new and weird observation. I see my country rising each day. I do not think it’s going to the dogs. What makes you think so?
Atul – do you not watch the news every day?
Rohan – I watch it but dare not believe it.
Atul – There are certain news which can be believed.
Rohan – I believe that the role of the news channels should only be restricted upto reporting news and ever since they started debating and commenting upon the same since then there is no reality left in journalism.
Atul – but one cannot defy videos and live visuals.
Rohan – I said, what happens is news but what is reported and discussed is not news. We can discuss news later but before that tell me what ‘news’ made you soo upset?
Atul – yesterday there was this incident at Ramjas college where a session was disturbed by the goons of a student union. (ABVP)
Rohan – oh, I do know of that incident. Incidents are a part of everyday life. We cannot afford to disturb ourselves by something so trivial.
Atul – Trivial? I do not find it trivial; it is yet another attack, an attack by the right wing student union on a peaceful gathering of students. It was an attack on the fundamental right of students. How can you call it a trivial issue?
Rohan – kindly do not misunderstand me as a spokesperson of the ABVP for what I am going to say next. I find it trivial because me and all other people, including you, who have only watched the issue as a ‘news’ on a news channel, we do not have complete, accurate and exact information about the matter . Had it been that big an issue, we would have by now known all about it.
A big issue is one to which we are directly connected and we therefore know about. As long as we do not know about an issue and aren’t making any serious efforts to know more about it, till then it is just a trivial issue for us.
Atul – you may not know the facts but I do and so does everyone who cares to read the newspapers and watch the TV news.
Rohan – I bet you do not know it all. You know only what these different news channels have been telling you. In fact, these news people are themselves unaware of the facts. Each news channel has its own story and analysis of the incident. None can be believed.
Atul – There are certain believable facts and facts which are common in all the news channels.
Rohan – obviously, similarity of certain core facts makes a story or news. The core facts remain the same but the reporting of it differs.
Atul – And an analysis of these core facts, even without exact numbers and statistics, is good to give us a glimpse of what would have happened there or at a certain news point.
Rohan – does a mere glimpse into an incident qualify you to comment upon it? Or does a mere glimpse give you the right to infer that our country is going to the dogs?
Atul – Not a glimpse but an analysis of the glimpse.
Rohan – an analysis of the glimpse is also not sufficient to draw any conclusion. Ok tell me what glimpse did you get and what did you analyse.
Atul – let me put the details of the incident before you.
Rohan – go ahead.
Atul – there was a seminar organized at Ramjas College of Delhi University on the topic ‘Culture of Protests’ and this seminar was chaired by some professors of the college and by Mr. Umar Khalid.
Rohan – Umar Khalid of JNU.
Atul – Yes, Umar Khalid the student of JNU who was lately held by the Police along with few others on the charges of sedition as he was rallying for the freedom of Kashmir and against the hanging of Afzal Guru.
Rohan – it was nice to hear you call him ‘Mr.’ Umar Khalid. I believe you have some new found respect for him.
Atul – yes I do respect him for a number of reasons.
Rohan – may I know what those reasons are?
Atul – he is highly educated, he has his own ideology, and he is fighting for the freedom of people.
Rohan – what else?
Atul – isn’t that more than enough for us to respect him?
Rohan – I do not find anything unique there. There are many men amongst us who possess all these qualities. Our neighbor Mr. Kaushik is just the same but I did not ever see you give such respect to him as you do to ‘Mr.’ Umar
Atul – I reckon you are one of those typical Indians who have a problem with Umar Khalid for certain reasons. People like you need to broaden their outlook.
Rohan – And what according to you are those reasons?
Atul – those reasons are not reasons made up by me. I have a video of Umar Khalid’s interview wherein he has pointed those reasons out and I find them pretty valid.
Rohan – you seem to be a big time follower of Umar Khalid. I haven’t seen the video yet. Would you please care to show the same to me.
Atul – sure.
ATUL TAKES OUT THE PHONE FROM HIS POCKET AND SHOWS THE VIDEO TO ROHAN
Atul – I was expecting you to be different than others and to look at the video with a flexible attitude. You see this is the problem with India these days. India and Indians have become too rigid and too intolerant. I was really hoping you to be above and better than the intolerant right wingers. I see nothing foul or faulty in the video. Would you please highlight the same to me?
Rohan – I will definitely point out the flaws but before that, I must remind you that our discussion on the Ramjas incident is yet to begin.
Atul – Yes we will get to that later. Point out the flaws please.
Rohan – the video is well and neatly made but the words used by Umar Khalid are shallow and they only expose his true communal character.
For instance, there was a section in the video where he asked us ‘does his being a Muslim make him a bad Indian?’This statement exposes the true spirit of his character. He was held after the JNU incident not because he is a Muslim but because he was one of the people who were giving anti national speeches. In fact, along with him, Kanhaiya Kumar was also arrested and charged with almost similar cases. I do not see religion being involved anyhow.
His reference to the Babri Masjid case was also out of context and was probably only to give substance to his own ill-founded theory of religious bias against him.
People in our country are inquisitive enough and Umar Khalid does not have to tell us to be inquisitive and if he so desires us to question everything and everyone then he must himself be ready to be questioned. He should not evade those by citing religion bias.
Atul – All he wants us to do is to not consider him anti national and not to look at him as someone who wants to divide this country.
Rohan – no one ever did. In fact no one even cared who Umar Khalid was. He was, like us, just another leaf in a forest. It was he himself who probably wanted to build a career by fighting the state and such fights do not come for free. There is always a cost to these fights. Umar Khalid had to pay for the elevation of his political career by having to spend a few days in the jail and by having Indians curiously look at him.
Atul – I believe you are being overly critical of Umar Khalid. His protest was in no manner meant to give impetus to his political career.
Rohan – what other outcomes of the protest do you see? From a simple unknown student who could probably not have managed to be anything more than successful professor or a researcher has now become the face of Protests in India. He is now a youth brand ambassador of the left in our country.
The fact that people like us are discussing him is a feat which he couldn’t have ever imagined to have achieved. No political party in our country would think twice before sponsoring him against the BJP.
His career has definitely taken a flight after the incident. Have you ever heard of a student being invited to address other students in a seminar? or being written about in some of the leading newspapers of the country?
Atul – He has definitely achieved a lot but much credit of it goes to his critical thinking and a spirit of inquiry which he has and which people like us lack.
Rohan – It is not only the spirit of enquiry but also the ability to speak up against your very own country and to take it to the verge of a break down. Umar Khalid has, not only vouched for freedom of any sort, he has, in his call for freedom, risked breaking the very fragile fabric which keeps our country united and functional.
Atul – so does that make him an anti-national?
Rohan – what else would?
Atul – but those opposing him haven’t done much good for the country either. They too are only disturbing peace and security of people as they did in the Ramjas College.
Rohan – Yes, let us get back to Ramjas. So what do you conjecture would have happened there?
Atul – these are the facts. During the seminar on ‘Culture of protests’ the ABVP members started pelting stones and disturbed the proceedings thereby resulting in clashes between different student bodies.
The ABVP justified their act as a prevention of proliferation of leftist ideas from JNU to the Delhi University.
Rohan – That is extremely sad but are you sure that it was the ABVP person who first pelted stones?
Atul – they must have. Who else would disturb the seminar? And the ABVP people were there to do the same.
Rohan – I knew you were conjecturing. ABVP was there to disturb the seminar but were they really the ones who pelted stones?
Atul – who else would?
Rohan – you quite liberally granted Umar Khalid the benefit of doubt and inferred his demand for freedom as a demand for more rights and not a demand for freedom from India. You were not there when and where Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya were making those speeches nor were you there when the stones were pelted at a Seminar?
How could you or anyone, who wasn’t there, blindly blame ABVP for doing it?
Does your liberal grant extend only to those who study at JNU and are good English speakers or are supported by presstitudes?
Atul – but that is what was reported at all the news channels
Rohan – They could have been paid to do so. I speak not as a spokesperson of ABVP but I do speak as a responsible citizen who wants you and others like to make an unbiased case. If one party is being given the benefit of unavailability of facts then the other party should also be.
ABVP might have been responsible for stone pelting but we cannot blame them unless we have a proof of it. A video of a stone lying inside a seminar hall and the students panicking does not necessarily make ABVP the culprit.
Atul – was it right on the part of the ABVP to enter into the premises of Ramjas College and disturb the seminar? Let us leave stone pelting aside.
Rohan – No, the ABVP must not have done that. There are other and better ways to counter the ills being proliferated at such seminars. I am against the breach of a secured space and violence but I am also against the subjection of young students to the lectures of a man who is out only on a bail and is charged with sedition. It is like re arming a homicide suspect.
Moreover, Umar Khalid shouldn’t have had any problem with violence or a violent protest because for him, that is what Afzal Guru also did and was wrongly convicted for. Umar Khalid is simply being a hypocrite.
Atul – He has yet not been proved guilty and so he does have the right to chair seminars.
Rohan – He has not been acquitted either. We are living in a civilized society where checks on freedom are as important as freedom itself. Someone who is a suspect of sedition should by any logic not be allowed to address young minds. The constitution does not lay any such prohibitions on any kind of suspects but logic tells that he should be prohibited.
Atul – That is not very liberal.
Rohan –First, liberalism is only a fancy concept, not a virtue and no state is absolutely liberal so kindly stop imagining India turning into an absolute liberal democracy. Yes my statement does not sound liberal. Not even the oldest and the most liberal democracies would take the risk of having its future be influenced by shallow ideas.
Atul – Does a suspect not have any right to live a dignified life?
Rohan – Addressing a group of students is more than dignified. Yes suspects do have the right to live a dignified life and therefore it is imperative on the part of the judiciary to give a verdict on such cases at the earliest possible and until the verdict comes, the suspect should at least be denied addressing such gatherings.
Atul – wouldn’t that become an instrument of dictatorship? The government can charge any one they suspect dangerous and simply rip them of all their powers?
Rohan – the role of the Judiciary is most important. The judiciary must discharge such cases at the earliest possible so that no such tendencies of the government are ever realised.
Atul – I guess there should be more to it.
Rohan – yes there should be and there could be.
ATUL’S MOM CALLS HIM BACK HOME TO HELP HER WITH SOMETHING
Rohan – what ok? You not convinced yet?
Atul – I am more than convinced. Phew, that was one hell of a discussion.
Rohan – yes it was and had your mother not called you we could have discussed further but this isn’t the end we’ll have more such discussions.
THEY LEAVE FOR THEIR HOMES