Political, Social

Does the right to express dissent confer the legitimacy of pelting stones?

Mahatma gandhi peaceful nation towards a nation of stone pelting

Non-violence is an innate feature of our nationalism. The power of non-violence is what our freedom fighters capitalised upon. Their persistence and faith in non-violence made us achieve independence from the inglorious British Empire more than anything else. We’re a nation of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas and principles are still alive in our nation. Amongst the principles and abstracts of the ‘father of the nation’ the notion of non-violence held the maximum priority. He has proved it with distinction as to how a freedom struggle being helmed by non-violence. If non-violence could win it then it can still win but is the faith receding away?

In a democracy, the systems and the government are accountable to people. People have a right to express dissent and question those at the helm. But does the right to express dissent confer the legitimacy of pelting stones? Is this how student protest ought to be? Being educated enough should students indulge in these form of activities? Is this how we would emerge as a superpower given 65% youth population as per UNESCO? Is this how we are going to make it count being the youngest nation in the world in terms of its population? If Mahatma Gandhi was to take birth again in the modern India he would only be disappointed to see this paradigm shift. There’s a paradigm shift the Indian democracy is headed towards. This shift is from being a nation of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology to a nation of stone pelters. It’s dreadful how people have found it convenient to pick up stones and thrash what’s in front of them to express dissent or anger.

It started from Kashmir in the summer of 2016. The infamous summer of dissent. Stones were pelted in abundance on the armed forces in Kashmir. Some pelted in dissent while some pelted for money, each stone thrown had a price tag! The culture of stone pelting even reflected outside the ambit of Kashmir recently. We all remember how stones were pelted in an event at Ramjas college where Umar Khalid from JNU was invited to deliver a speech. Then not to forget what happened at Panjab University in Chandigarh where stones were pelted on the police that was deployed to calm down the protests against fee hike in the university.

Stone pelting in kashmir

From Kashmir to New Delhi and then Chandigarh stone pelting has become a terrifying assault on Gandhi Ji’s principles of non-violence.

Kashmir has its own share of complexities and for once you would want to sideline it. But stones being pelted in a college in New Delhi like this is certainly a cause of worry for such incidents should neither be welcomed in an educational institute of any stature nor in a democracy like India. The problem is even larger when stone pelting gains popularity as a form of student protests as seen recently. Are we headed backwards to Stone Age? This form of an uncalled and violence dissent is only evident of the same.

There may be different perspectives as to how stone pelting was taken up in Kashmir and other parts of India. The objectives might have been different and also the nature of dissent might have varied. But a very important question that needs to be asked is Is the stone pelting module of Kashmir expanding to other parts of the nation as a popular form of expressing dissent or disobedience. Is this the new model of student protests? If this is to be true then surely we ought to be worried and we ought to drop all aspirations of being a developed nation where people are highly educated because of the simple reason that education doesn’t teach one to pelt stones and educated people don’t indulge in stone pelting!

So if stone pelting was an issue to be resolved in Kashmir initially it has now become a draconian possibility in any part of the nation. This must be eliminated soon by the proactive involvement of the legislature and judiciary! Like Kashmir has failed to tackle this problem it is only legit to be afraid of this being a failure of the Indian democracy in every corner! It can well go beyond than just being a horrifying module of student protests.

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