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Dissent faces the big bully

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Dec 26, 2019, 12:36 am IST
Updated : Dec 26, 2019, 12:36 am IST

The deportation of a German student from an elite academic institution indicates how dissent is being seen.

People hold placards while protesting against the CAA and NRC at Rajghat, New Delhi, on Saturday.
 People hold placards while protesting against the CAA and NRC at Rajghat, New Delhi, on Saturday.

Dissent is the essence of democracy and people should not be destructive or obstructive, but constructive.” The words are ascribed to vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu, a former RSS leader and now a senior statesman, but a glance at today’s national situation, where dissent is being expressed in myriad ways against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, points to a stark incongruity in a clash between lofty principles and harsh reality.

The deportation of a German student from an elite academic institution indicates how dissent is being seen. The student may have made his arrangements to leave for home. That he was forced out may not be evident on his passport or travel documents. He was simply shown the door in what is the very definition of illiberalism, and recreating how the secret police of another era may have behaved.

It’s arguable if he had breached his student visa terms by his presence at anti-CAA protests, but his ejection without seeking an explanation or following due process only shows up the State as a vengeful entity, that will brook no dissent. Enforcing its will against the weakest and most vulnerable opponents makes the government a big bully.

The German student could go home, but what about Indians who are threatened by insidious posturing by ruling party leaders to erode the rights and liberties of citizens? For instance, Kerala actors are being warned by a politico that the income-tax authorities will be set upon them if they are seen opposing the CAA. Among those so targeted was an actress who had held up a humorous poster at a protest on how a cow may have eaten up her documents!

Scaring progressives and alienating protesters throttles dissent, the very opposite of what democracy means.

Tags: citizenship (amendment) act