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Freedom of Expression, Religious Fundamentalism

Condemn the politics of Fundamentalism and Hate! Stop Suppression of Freedom of Expression!!

Condemn the politics of Fundamentalism and Hate!

Stop Suppression of Freedom of Speech and Expression!!

3rd February 2015, New Delhi: In the wake of the 2015, India is seeing an upsurge of hate and fundamentalism on one hand and outright suppression of the right to free speech and expression on the other, with vigilante groups and non-state actors imposing censorship through hooliganism and assertive fundamentalist voices, in the name of nationalism with the tacit support of the State.
This republic day, the advertisement by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (DAVP22201/13/0048/1415) portrays an outdated version of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution when the words Socialist and Secular were not inserted by the 42nd Amendment. Some of the fundamentalists have also openly endorsed this error on the part of the Ministry saying that India is not a secular country! On the same day, there was a so called public uproar regarding the issue of Vice President of the Country not saluting in the republic day ceremony when the flag was being hoisted. The public debate and the media attention forced the Vice President to issue an official statement stating that his actions were guided by proper protocol. The irony of situation is that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting have not yet issued any statement with a clarification, at least, or an apology, at best.

People of the country have also witnessed “the death of the ‘author’ Perumal Murugan” this year, when his book Mathorubhagan was opposed for allegedly portraying the Kailasanathar temple in Tiruchengode and women devotees in bad light and demands of his arrest were made. Not just the author was made to delete all controversial portions and submit written apologies, he was also forced to leave his home town and he has now decided to give up writing altogether.

In Kolkata, on the evening of 31st January, 2015, members of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, resorted to hooliganism and agitation against Bangladesh country and eventually forced the shutting down of the stall by the Department of Tourism of Bangladesh at the ongoing Kolkata International Book Fair. The issue was regarding the sale of a tourist map which showed parts of Kashmir within the boarders of Pakistan. While the map may be an issue to raise questions or even democratically agitate, the way the entire Book Fair was hijacked by this hooliganism was undemocratic. Hate mongering through repeated shouting of slogans such as ‘Bangladesh Murdabad’ was clearly an attempt to shame the very notion of democracy.

National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements strongly condemns the actions in all the events highlighted above and other events where the freedom of speech and expression, as envisaged by the Constitution of India, is being trampled through hooliganism and spreading of fundamentalism and hatred. We would like to bring the attention of the State authorities to these important matters and request them to take necessary actions so that the public space is not disturbed by the overtly hate mongering actions of the fundamentalist groups. We also call upon the citizenry to strongly condemn the actions of those in power who are trying to hijack and force public views and discourses and jeopardize the tolerant and understanding fabric of multi-cultural, geo-political land called India.

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Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan & Lingraj Azad – Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM, Odisha; Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti &Meera – Narmada Bachao Andolan, NAPM, MP; Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, Prasad Bagwe – NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; C R Neelkandan – NAPM Kerala; P Chennaiah &Ramakrishnan Raju – NAPM Andhra Pradesh, Arundhati Dhuru & Richa Singh –Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM, UP;Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union &Rukmini V P, Garment Labour Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan & Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Anand Mazgaonkar, Krishnakant – Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat; Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan – Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan & Mahendra Yadav – Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar; Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana; Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan; Amitava Mitra & Sujato Bhadra, NAPM West Bengal; B S Rawat – Jan Sangharsh Vahini &Rajendra Ravi, Madhuresh Kumar and Kanika Sharma – NAPM, Delhi

About Intercultural Resources

Intercultural Resources is a forum for research and political intervention on issues related to the impacts and alternatives to destructive development. Our effort draws upon the social, cultural, material and intellectual resources that have been generated in the course of dialogues between people of different cultures on questions of social justice, development and self-rule. We are of the view that dialogue can sustain plurality and open possibilities for recovery of the ground lost on account of inter-cultural alienation, which is manifest in a variety of forms of violence that we encounter everyday at different levels of social life. Intercultural Resources is based in Delhi, India. Email: ihpindia@gmail.com

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