Richa Bharti: The Free Speech Hero India Needs  

by Abhishek Banerjee - Jul 16, 2019 06:34 PM +05:30 IST
Richa Bharti: The Free Speech Hero India Needs  Hear hear what the court has ordered in Richa Bharti’s case!
Snapshot
  • A Hindu being asked to buy her freedom by paying an Islamic tribute? That’s an act that brings back the worst of the civilizational memories of Hindus and Sikhs who have lived in this country.

Sometimes when everyone — from government to courts to political parties — fails to protect the basic free speech of citizens, it takes a first-year college student to speak the truth.

So a Ranchi girl, Richa Bharti, asked aloud why “one community” is disproportionately represented among terrorists. From what I have heard, she was responding to a viral TikTok video, where some “seculars” ask what if Tabrez Ansari’s son decides to “avenge” his father’s death by becoming a terrorist.

Screenshot of the article as it appears in <i>India Today</i>.
Screenshot of the article as it appears in India Today.
Source: India Today

By the way, the answer to the second question is quite simple. If anyone becomes a terrorist, they deserve to be neutralized by the law enforcement.

The answer to the first question is actually simple as well. The only difference is that it would take a lot of courage to answer it honestly.

For instance, Richa Bharti wanted to know why we have never seen a Kashmiri Pandit become a terrorist?

Excerpt from the article appearing on<i> indiatimes.com</i>
Excerpt from the article appearing on indiatimes.com
Source: www.indiatimes.com

Again, everyone knows the answer to this question, but nobody dares to say it. Not the vast majority of Hindus, who would rather believe that the moon is made of cheese, and that all religions are exactly the same. Even fewer would bear to hear it. Least of all the BJP government in Jharkhand, which arrested her for asking the question.

What followed next is chilling; the court agreed to give her bail on condition that she distributes five copies of the Quran.

Screenshot of article appearing on <i>www.swarajyamag.com</i>
Screenshot of article appearing on www.swarajyamag.com
Source: Swarajya 

A Hindu being asked to buy her freedom by paying an Islamic tribute?! An act that brings back the worst of the civilizational memories of Hindus and Sikhs who have lived in India.

In Delhi, there is the Gurudwara Sheesh Ganj Sahib, where Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh guru, laid down his life.  I suggest the court to go read up on the history of the site before asking a Hindu or a Sikh to buy their freedom by paying a tribute to Islamism.

What happens if Richa Bharti refuses to submit? Will Richa Bharti be asked next to convert to Islam? The learned and honorable court should answer the question posed by the first-year college student.

Rarely do we have moments such as this when the farce of India’s pseudo-secularism lies brutally exposed. Do Hindus have free speech rights or not? The courts must answer.

Here is what every Hindu should learn from Richa Bharti. She is just a college student, she was not set up by anyone. She did not care about petty partisanship. Spontaneous and unscripted, she has thrown a question before India’s pseudo-secular establishment.

And so assured was the establishment in its pseudo-secular ways that they have tied themselves in knots. The beauty of the whole things lies in its simplicity.

On December 1, 1955, a bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama asked a black woman to stand up so that a white passenger could have her seat. This was common in the United States at the time and people of color were expected to submit.

But something incredible happened that day. Something powerful and yet so simple. The woman refused. That black woman was Rosa Parks, who began a civil rights movement that ended racial segregation in America.

Ordinary people can do extraordinary things, even make history. IF we lend our voices to her and support her.

At the moment, the young Ranchi girl has a lot of odds stacked against her. We cannot say how long she can sustain by herself. But her simple act of defiance has the potential to make history. IF she gets the support of hundreds of millions of Hindus.

This piece was first published on Abhishek Banerjee's blog and has been republished here with permission.

Abhishek Banerjee is a mathematician and an Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He is also an avid blogger and tweets @AbhishBanerj.

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