Sedition charge: A govt weapon

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India in the recent past has seen a drastic rise in sedition cases. The country had off late registered a one hundred and sixty percent rise in such cases during the Modi’s regime. It seems that sedition has been a favourite weapon for the Modi government against those voicing against his policies. All the people from different backgrounds, states, religion and work are undergoing trial under sedition charges for either criticising the government or speaking against the Prime Minister. However, after the charges against Vinod Dua were quashed by the Supreme Court, the decision is indicative of the fact that the country still has a judiciary in place to check the executive. India, lately has also recently fallen from the status of a free country to partially free country as per the assessment of Freedom House’s Freedom in the World’ report. And sedition cases against people criticising and registering protest against the government is the prime reason for the same.
Since Modi came to power in 2014, India has undergone a sea of change. Today a citizen cannot disagree or question the union government. So much so, that the very federal democratic structure of the country seems to have developed cracks. The tussle between the non-BJP states and the union government is now out in the open. Be it Delhi Chief Minister’s decision of going live publicly during a meeting with the Prime Minister or the West Bengal Chief Minister’s act of keeping him waiting during a meeting, the fight is now public. However, we are talking about heads of states registering their dislike or protest against Modi. But when we talk about activists, journalists, farmers, laborers or any other citizen of the country, voicing against the Modi government means being pinned by sedition charges. Apparently, these ‘Andolanjeevis’, as Modi calls them are all anti-national beings disrupting the country’s developmental process. A fine example of this may be seen in Assam where a peasant leader turned legislator Akhil Gogoi is still jailed under sedition charges. Interestingly, he won the election for the first time even after being jailed all the time. Notably, Gogoi is known for being a government critic and one of the prominent leaders of the anti-CAA movement against the Modi regime.
Such action against the people by the Modi government has ridiculed Indian Constitution’s father Dr BR Ambedkar’s slogan “Educate, Agitate and Organise.” In a democratic free country, it is the right of the citizens to question or protest against the government policies if they deem it bad for them. After all it is the citizens who suffer or gain from such policies. But currently it seems almost impossible to disagree with the government, let alone criticising it. In a way it is the return of the British Raj where the common citizens are not allowed to question any government policy. How can questioning the government or criticising the Prime Minister be a crime of treason in a democratically free country? Rather criticism brings in efficiency, which even Modi himself advocated right after becoming the Prime Minister for the first time. But today it seems that being critical about the system may land one in trouble. Nevertheless, the government must realize that levelling sedition charges is merely not enough to stop the criticism and the judiciary should step in to reign-in the executive and uphold democracy in India.
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