It is very important to take note of the fact that the claim that the video clippings might have been doctored did not come when he was arrested, nor when he was produced before the court for remand, nor has he made any such claim (as far as the reports go) in his bail application. It would have been the most logical thing for him or his lawyers to place evidence before the court to show that the clippings were doctored. The legal position is that the best evidence has to come at the earliest instance. The news that they were doctored has started yesterday, i.e., 19th Feb, almost a week after his arrest. That too, by a TV channel, backed by a few intellectual-liberals. Amulya Gopalakrishnan, in her blistering article in TOI supporting the agitation, admitted that a few disloyal students did shout anti-national slogans, but argued that India is too big to be damaged by such students. G. Sampath, in his article titled “goonda nationalism” in The Hindu, admitted that the slogans like “Bharat ko barbad karenge” etc. were shouted, but argued that they are not anti-national. The sister of Omar Khalid, in her interview to the Hindu, said even her family did not subscribe to the slogans that were shouted by the students, including Omar Khalid, who, incidentally, is in hiding.
In this background, the claim that the video clippings have been doctored, does not appear to me to hold much water. It is an entirely different argument that such slogans are not anti-national. That is certainly a debatable argument, and one can take a view on that.
The fact that plain-clothes policemen were present when the slogans were shouted but took no action is of no consequence to the validity of the claim. Police has different methods of investigation and information gathering. They were obviously there to gather information/evidence, so that the higher police authorities can examine them and take appropriate action. Plain-clothes policemen never take action on the spot - it is just not their function. They are to collect evidence.
It is quite arguable that Kanhaiya Kumar was making valid points against the state of affairs of the country. It is equally correct that the government could have chosen to ignore his speech. But there were present in the gathering persons who were shouting anti-national slogans. One can write articles in sophisticated English (sitting in the Audis and Mercs) that these are not anti-national, but only project a view-point. That is the problem now. One has to see the facts and draw appropriate inferences having regard to certain fundamental principles of our country. Freedom-fighters did not sacrifice their lives and did not undergo suffering only to see the country “barbadi-fied”. Bengal could not even stand the division of their state in 1905; so how could somebody claim that Bengal wants to secede? One person cannot be the spokesman for the whole state! On the same reasoning, how can one person claim that Kerala was never part of India? If the country stands “barbadi-fied” can the slogan-shouting gathering alone survive the barbad? The welfare of the population is in the welfare, integrity and unity of the country that is India. Just as secularism is fundamental to our existence, integrity and unity of the country too is. The Constitution guarantees free speech, but even that is subject to reasonable restrictions. I do agree that Sec.124A of the IPC is an outmoded and archaic provision which has no place in the present times. The sloganeering crowd just exploited the loophole that sedition law cannot be applied to them. But is there not a case for introducing a provision that shouting slogans against India’s unity and integrity is an offence if it goes beyond the limits of freedom of speech? I would have welcomed if the agitating students had conducted a workshop or seminar to debate whether 124A should be repealed. That would have been more useful.
I do not hold a brief for any individual or party or channel. I am, just like the JNU student, a citizen of India but bound by certain fundamental principles that bind our country as one. I do not approve of the violence that was let loose by goondas on the accused with police allegedly taking no action. By such acts of violence, they have only played into the hands of the agitating students. Now the issue has lost its focus from whether there was anti-national slogan-shouting to whether some one can take law into his hands! This has acted to the advantage of the agitating students.
Moreover, students - whether from JNU or any other university - have no special or additional rights as citizens of India. Even I have the same rights and duties. I have a right to get offended if some one shouts slogans that want the “barbadi” of my country. I will protest. Just as the JNU students and the “intellectuals” and “liberals” supporting them claim that they have a right to dissent, I too have a right to say that what they did was anti-national, and that calls for action. But with this rider, that I want only peaceful means. Intellectual honesty, liberal outlook and the right to dissent is not the sole property of JNU students. There are crores of right-thinking Indians who have these traits. And they are watching.
Thanks for the patience.