Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Qwasi's Hate Speech and the Law catches up Ever Slowly...

While the Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech and expression, it also imposes reasonable restrictions on this right. Article 19(2) stipulates limitations in the interest of sovereignty and public order, as well as to guard against incitement to an offence. Even in the US, considered the bastion of free speech, if you threaten to kill the president it will be seen as incitement to violence and you will be arrested. India has a history of communal strife, and people cannot be allowed to make hate speeches with impunity. Whether it was the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Babri masjid demolition or the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, hate speeches and other communal propaganda were used to incite mobs to loot, rape and murder.

With politicians of different shades delivering provocative speeches from time to time to consolidate vote banks, the law should be applied uniformly. Owaisi and VHP leader Praveen Togadia are two sides of the same coin. BJP's Varun Gandhi and Congress's Jagdish Tytler ought to be prose-cuted with the same force. For, those who incite violence in society are as culpable as the agents of disharmony. Strict implementation of the law is needed to preserve the nation's secular fabric.

That Owaisi is a hatemonger isn't new, he had called for the beheading of Taslima Nasreen earlier. Only, he was a UPA ally back then - so no hue and cry was raised. Back then, Owaisi remained unrepentant and publicly vowed to implement the fatwa calling for the author's death. In the latest hate speech, Owaisi allegedly challenged the state to remove the police for 15 minutes to see how Muslims wreak havoc on the majority community. The assertion was clearly aimed at inciting communal tensions and is unbecoming of a public representative. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi ought to face the full force of the law for delivering a hate speech at a public meeting last month.


An Excerpt

"On December 24 2012, Owaisi addressed a rally of twenty to twenty-five thousand Muslims in the Nirmal town of Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. In his two-hour long speech, Owaisi made several inflammatory, disparaging and derogatory comments against Hindus, Hindu deities, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party, Narendra Modi, India, and United States of America.
Owaisi made the statement that "the population of your Hindustan (India) is 1 billion, while we Muslims are 250 million." He added that Muslims of India would need only 15 minutes without the police to show the Hindus of India who is more powerful - the Hindustan of 1 billion or the 250 million Muslims".[6]
The crowd responded to this statement by shouting slogans of "Allahu Akbar" and the leaders present at the meeting supported Owaisi.[8] Owaisi called the Hindus as "impotent" and the Indian police as the "impotent army". He said that not even one crore impotent men can together father one child. He said that these people (Hindus) cannot face the Muslims, and whenever the Muslims start dominating the Hindus, the impotent army (police) intervenes. Owaisi said that "we (Muslims) will not let you (India or Hindus) live peacefully."[20]

Owaisi repeatedly called Ajmal Amir Kasab, one of the Pakistani militants of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, a "child", and compared him to Narendra Modi. He asked if Kasab was hanged then why is Modi not hanged, and said that the reason was only because Kasab was a Pakistani and Modi is Indian. He said that if the Muslims of India united like the Muslims of Andhra Pradesh, Narendra Modi would soon be hanged.[8][9] Owaisi threatened that if his words were not heard, "O India, destruction and ruin will be your fate".[8] He also dared Narendra Modi to come to Hyderabad, threatening by saying "we will show him then".[8] Owaisi justified the Mumbai bombings of 1993 by saying they were a reaction to the demotion of Babri Masjid.[8] He also questioned the punishment handed out to the accused of the bombings, naming Tiger Memon as one of those punished even though Tiger Memon is still at large.[8]

Owaisi made derogatory comments against Hindu god Rama and his mother Kaushalya.[8] Questioning the birth and the birthplace of Rama, Owaisi asked "where all did Kaushalya go to give birth to Rama and where all did Rama take birth".[8] Owaisi mocked Hindu panentheism saying Hindus have many gods and goddesses, and every eight days, new gods keep coming up.[6][21] In a reference to the Bhagyalakshmi temple in Hyderabad, he said, "We knew about Lakshmi, but who is Bhagyalakshmi, we are not aware."[6] Owaisi mocked Hindu cremation by saying "when you (Hindus) die, you become air after burning and go astray."[3] Owaisi talked in derogatory terms about heritage places of India including Ayodhya, Ajanta caves and Ellora caves.[3]

Owaisi compared the state of Muslims of India to the state of Muslims of the world and blamed India and America for the same.[8] Owaisi said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishva Hindu Parishad, and the Bharatiya Janata Party were poisonous snakes, and to "crush their heads" a stick is enough.[8]

After the speech, Owaisi left for London citing "medical treatment" as the reason."



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