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Friday, 23 June 2017

Seditious Sedition

India generally gets better press in the West and better treatment from this blog, than its mad dog neighbour Pakistan.

India's Sedition Laws Are Misused Again ....

But there are times when it proves to be just as ridiculous as its erstwhile competitor ... Pakistan has long since ceased to compete with India, except it seems in stupidity.

India recently arrested 15 Indian Muslims, who were allegedly supporting the Pakistan cricket when they played India in the Champions Trophy cricket final. The Pakistani team had crushed the Indian team, who had been favourites to win the final.

The young men were charged with the serious charge of sedition. This would have meant they would have to surrender their passports, and wouldn't be eligible to apply for government jobs until found not guilty (which could takes decades in India's sclerotic legal processes). They also must be forced to appear in court, as and when required, and spend their own money on legal fees.

India misuses its sedition laws (from the colonial era ... so our fault obviously), outrageously, and even allows private citizens such as lawyers to lay charges as well. Sedition charges have been laid in the past against individuals or groups for such acts as liking a particular Facebook post, criticising a yoga guru, cheering a rival cricket team, drawing cartoons, asking a provocative question in a university exam, or not standing up in a cinema when the national anthem is being played.

The sedition laws in India were introduced in the 1870's by governor Thomas Macauley, and originally were to deal with "increasing Wahabi activities between 1863 and 1870 that posed a challenge to the colonial government" (Yes the same hard-line Wahabi's clerics from Saudi Arabia who export intolerance and jihadist ideas today). The law has never been repealed (like so many colonial laws the Indian government finds it 'useful' to retain), but an amendment in 1962 made incitement to violence a necessary condition.

The charges were laid in this instance, after Hindus who were watching the cricket match and supporting India, said that the men had shouted "pro-Pakistan" slogans during the game ... oh and they had let off firecrackers in celebration when they won. The local police in Madhya Pradesh state have since denied that the men were being charged because they were cheering for Pakistan. No, it was because of the 'anti-India slogans' that they had chanted. What these chants actually were was not reported so far, but no doubt they would have come up with something unlikely by the time it got to court ... although unless they had incited violence, its hard to see how the charges would have stood up.

In fact that's exactly what the local police force decided, after a couple of days of increasingly mocking media coverage .... so they have now dropped the sedition charge, and substituted it with an equally strange charge of "disturbing communal harmony" instead. They told local press that the change of charges was because sedition was "hard to prove". 

This of course is not the first time Indian Muslims have got into trouble for cheering for the Pakistan cricket team .... but it may be the most innocuous instance. The other instances were both in Indian administered Kashmir, where the long running insurgency makes the authorities understandably more sensitive.

However imagine if we took the same view as India, when Pakistani and Indian descent 'Britons' supported those two countries whenever they play England at cricket? We would be arresting millions of our fellow Brits for sedition .... and both Pakistan and India would both scream about 'Human Rights'.

Its a strange old world and no mistake.

2 comments:

  1. You really wouldn't want to live in some of these countries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have to agree with you but t6hese are vast countries with populations and landmasses bigger than Europe. So they don't always have a unified response to situations, and often a basically feudal.

      Thanks for the comment

      Delete

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