Celebrating Attack on Umar Khalid – Isn’t That Seditious?
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
On the afternoon of Monday, 13 August, an armed gunman opened fire at Umar Khalid, the JNU activist. And though Khalid escaped unscathed, the attack has opened a cacophony of voices in my head.
The Editor in me says, 'Don't over-react'.
The regular guy in me says, 'Speak now...Or be ready to be shut down forever!'
Umar Khalid is a no-holds-barred critic of the NDA government. In fact, given his politics, he would be a critic even of a Congress government, and I’m not even a fan of his left of left politics.
When Umar Khalid is branded anti-national, abused severely, sent death threats on social media – much of it hate speech, punishable by law – and of course, police take no action, I am appalled. But I do very little apart from giving Khalid’s point of view editorial space even as Republic TV chooses to vilify him on a regular basis.
And that’s fair. I am a non-partisan media editor. A prisoner of my deeply ingrained sense of balance. In fact, even when shoes are thrown at press conferences, or eggs, or ink – from Chidambaram to Kejriwal – I am against even that!
And then, suddenly, the eggs, ink and shoes are replaced by a bullet – and I’m reminded rudely that something has changed. And that needs to be called out, now or never!
It is tragic, it is disgusting, it is unacceptable, that we live in a country where, not even a kilometre from our Parliament, that symbol of our democracy, someone can pull out a gun and fire at someone just to stop him from expressing a view! Where a nutcase feels he is free to shoot at someone just to shut him up! It's appalling that this person is so convinced that Khalid has said enough to deserve a bullet, or has been assured that he need not fear the law. Did I just express a conspiracy theory? Damn right I did!
And if getting shot at wasn’t bad enough, read what the trolls have to say about it.
Biswajeet Rai says: "Really condemn the unsuccessful attempt of shooting!! Try lynching him next time... This kind of anti national elements must be eliminated as soon as possible..."
Aditya Sharma says: "Khalid hum sharminda Hain..tum jaise abhi bhi zinda hain."
Abhisek Dwivedy goes one better, saying: "Khalid hum sharmida he, jo tuje maar na sake wo abhi zinda hai…"
So, who is going to shut these guys up? Here are fellow Indians actually celebrating that someone was shot at, actually angry that the bullet missed?
For the police: Sirs, isn’t this hate speech? Isn’t this abetment to murder? What more do you need to act? Is there someone out there saying, ‘Kuch mat karo’? What is sedition, we should ask? Wanting to kill someone to shut him up, wanting to kill the idea of free speech in India – isn’t that sedition?? In that case, who is guilty of sedition?
Those who shot at Umar Khalid, those who troll him and want him dead, the channels who brand him a traitor, aren't they the ones who are guilty of sedition? Umar Khalid believes in free speech, so do I, so do crores of Indians. How in God's name is THAT sedition?! Put that gun away, let's talk. Let's even agree to disagree. How difficult can it be to just talk?