I opinionated there that the reason most Indians did NOT come out in the open on the Shankaracharya’s arrest is because most felt that there was something more to the issue, than that the poltically motivated right/left-wingers would like us to believe. That most of us felt that the law should take its own course… as we were NOT talking of a white collar crime here…
Today’s Deccan Herald carried on the Edit Page Doctrine of religious immunity?, a very well thought out article by Punyapriya Dasgupta, stating that the Investigation must press ahead then, without faltering before entreaties or threats. I liked this piece essentially as it matches my train of thought over the last couple of weeks.
In analysing the “support” given by the BJP leaders, the so-called “right-wing proponents of Hindutva and Hinduism” – the VHP and RSS leaders, and other good natured sections of the society, Dasgupta writes:
There is also a large number of honest people, whose traditional faith in their religion and their devotion to seers and saints make it impossible to believe that a Shankaracharya can be implicated in or even accused of murdering anyone. Their deep-rooted loyalty pulls them to the viewpoint that their guru should be treated, in practice, if not also in theory, as above the law. They find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that under India’s republican Constitution, all its citizens are equal before the law.
When pressed hard, they raise one question to which no one can give a satisfactory answer: If the law is the same for all Indians, then why are some of those who should be in prison, ministers in New Delhi or in the states? This, of course, is a shame to India’s politics and government. Yet, the point remains that if one criminal escapes justice, that is not reason enough for helping others to do so.
This is something I have been saying all along. And thus it is no surprise that my thoughts are in total agreement with Dasgupta’s words:
If India is to remain a law-abiding polity as its Constitution ordains, none should be allowed to ask for setting anyone above the law.
The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
And that’s exactly how it should be. Add to that Article 15 (1) which states that:
The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.
Before people start branding me a right/left-winger, let me make one thing clear: I am NOT saying that ONLY Hindus be subjected to the above.
I AM however stating that let us as Indians begin looking and identifying ourselves as Indians. Just that. Nothing more.
The fundamental rights are applicable to us because we are Indian citizens, not because we belong or do not belong to a particular religion.
The constitution in effect states that a hindu, muslim, sikh, christian, jain, buddist, and the like… including an athiest should NOT be discriminated by the State under the Law of the Land.
Let’s get our act together. Let’s try working towards achieving the democracy our constitution guarantees us, and states that we are!
As Purushottam Aggarwal says in Hindu silence, extremist noise published in the Indian Express:
Questioning the manner of arrest is perfectly valid, but to demand a separate law for religious figures is quite another. Governance draws sustenance from the idea of certain universal values that transcend culture and tradition. These values are the rule of law and a secular notion of citizenship.
NOTE: I truly CAN’T say that I agree with the rest of Prof Aggarwal’s statements. I don’t!