The Beginnings of Facism?

17th April 2013

 

The Beginnings of Fascism?

 

-Anjaneya Reddy, Member Core Committee, Vishalandhra Mahasabha (presided over the aborted meeting); formerly of the Indian Police Service

 

When you fail to shoot, you beat with the butt’ so goes an old adage. This is what happened  on 16th April ‘13, in the hall named for Suravaram Pratap Reddy, scholar-writer and pioneer-editor of the old Hyderabad State. On prior intimation to police and with the permission of the authorities, a meeting was called in the Press Club, Basheer bagh by the Visalandhra Mahasabha – an organization committed to the political and cultural integrity of the Telugu speaking people – to launch the Telugu version of their publication ‘Refuting an Agitation’ . The publication seeks to place in public domain facts and figures relating to some 100 assertions often made by the Telangana protagonists to incite emotions. The issues raised over the years were carefully collected, categorized and researched with an open mind to see if there is any room for genuine grievance. It has taken the organization more than two years to do all this and bring out a publication which gives unbiased and authentic information. Its English edition was launched in New Delhi some time ago in the presence of eminent journalists and writers and sent to all columnists, opinion-makers, MPs and MLAs of the State. Of late, many people have come to rely on the publication for authentic information. As a result, there is considerable disenchantment with the claims of the Telangana protagonists! Even, they have come to realize that their claims are not supported by statistics and switched to basing their case on ‘sentiment’ which all well-meaning people know cannot be the basis for dividing a State!  Should  sentiment be the criterion, we have to have more than 500 States in India!

 

The book was launched by Mehboob Ali, a veteran of the Telangana Struggle of the 1950s which not only fought the Nizam-supported Razakars bravely but rid Telangana of all feudalism and paved the way for  what is now Andhra Pradesh. As the meeting progressed, some journalists came in, asked the police officers in plain clothes to leave the hall which they meekly did in spite of prior information to them that the trouble was brewing. Some hoodlums claiming to be journalists broke into the hall, broke the microphones and burnt copies of the book in the hall itself, all under the confused gaze of the policemen. Ironically, the venue is barely two hundred meters away from the office of the Dy. Commissioner who was briefed by the writer himself a day In advance about the possibility of inspired violence. There were at least a hundred policemen and officers including the ‘task-force’ bouncers whereas the trouble makers were about 25 or 30. When this writer, who presided over the meeting, later protested to the Dy. Commissioner, he pleaded helplessness on the ground that the incident took place inside the Press Club hall! He even seems to think that the journalists in their own premises are above the law!

 

The incident raises some questions of deep concern. Press Club should be the place where the right to freedom of speech is to be upheld more than anywhere else. Even if a section of the press is opposed to the book being launched – in the normal circumstance there can be no opposition – there is a way to protest. A day later another meeting can be held to counter or question the facts the book presents. Burning a book that too in the premises of the Press Club shows their utter contempt for freedom of speech about which they often yell from the rooftops and almost borders on fascist tendencies among a section of journalists. This menace, only the well-meaning among them can put down! If the self-correcting mechanism breaks down, freedom of the Press itself would be in jeopardy. We would like to tell our journalist friends that books are not for burning!

 

The police also have a few lessons to learn. Every police officer is administered an oath at the beginning of his or her career to uphold the Constitution which promises freedom of speech and the right to assemble “peaceably and without arms”. Failing to afford protection, in spite of prior intimation to them as in the instant case, would amount to abdication of professional responsibility. The confusion in the minds of senior officers whether they can intervene in the Press Club premises to restrain the misbehaving journalists has resulted in the whole force being reduced to mute spectators. This is precisely what happened on an earlier occasion again in the press club, when the Bangladesh activist, Taslima Nazreen was assaulted and humiliated by an MLA and a few of his  fundamentalist followers right under the nose of the Police, while launching a book questioning religious orthodoxy. Our police officers are either inadequately briefed about the rights of the people or do not know their job well or trying to be more ‘tactful’ than correct in their conduct. If this kind of inaction is tolerated on part of the police officers, consequences can be disastrous and even normally law-abiding people, in their frustration, would be forced to take law into their hands! As long as the duty of the police is to prevent violence and lawlessness, it doesn’t matter where it takes place, in the Press Club or a university or even a temple or a mosque. None of these places are above the law of the land or people connected with them have any immunity from police action. Law-abiding people expect the Police to uphold their right to assemble and make their voices heard. The day the police fail to do this, democratic rights have no meaning! Let them not drive the law-abiding people to desperation! In any case let not our police force be over-awed by hooliganism whatever quarters it comes from!

 

4 Responses to “The Beginnings of Facism?”

  1. Sunil says:

    This incident shows how the Gov, political parties and  people of AP  are apathy toward these problems. Tomorrow anyone who expresses a different opinion can trashed. This is what happens when the systems collapse and nobody cares. Save Andhra Pradesh and people of AP.

  2. AMRAO says:

    Finally, there is some one from the Media who has the guts to express the real truth. I am sure he will receive lot of stones for this. 

     

    http://www.sakshi.com/main/WeeklyDetails.aspx?Newsid=61145&Categoryid=1&subcatid=18

     

    • AMRAO says:

      Nijam nilakada meeda telustundi. An important office bearer of the Journalists Union is saying some of the journalists are doubling up as agitators and causing damage. 

      I am sure the truth about 1000 suicides will also come out. The truth is majority of them are suicides for personal reasons (which happen on a daily basis throughout the country). I wonder why there are no suicides for the last 1 month even though no guarantees are given about Telangana. May be they were warned enough is enough and any new case of suicide for Telangana will be investigated thoroughly which will result in the real truth about the past cases coming out.

  3. GK says:

    Hi Chakravarthy,

    Can we start thread on Bayyaram issue?

    thanks

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