- More than 40 people have died in the riots that have followed the killing of Swami Lakshmanananda in Kandhamal in Orissa.
- 5 people were killed and 47 injured in Mumbai when Jerry Falwell made some comments saying that the Prophet of Islam was a violent man and a terrorist.
- 12 people had died in Mumbai in anti-rushdie riots.
India is the largest democracy which is more than 60 years old. Why then are we so undemocratic in our conduct?
I will not say that the resentment held by the people, the rage that they feel over their prophet being called a terrorist and over the death of their religious leader is wrong but we have to understand that free speech, besides being constitutional, is also more powerful than any violence. If the forced conversions were documented, shown to people, if people tried to prove that Mohammad was a peaceful person instead of killing innocent people, then that would have a lasting influence. Truth can be the only victor in a open debate.
Other resulting major problem is the lack of knowledge and reasoning, people take to streets before realizing the details of an issue. I have asked many people who spoke about the cartoons issue, Rushdie's book, hussains paintings, etc. they do not know what was shown in the cartoons and under what pretext or even the name of the newspaper in question; they do not know what the theme of Rushdies book was and why it was blasphemous. The people who went on a carnage in Orissa do not realize that Maoists have claimed responsibility and that christian organizations have condemned it.
I support complete free speech with no exceptions. It does not have to do with any ideology, varied opinions on all subjects can only benefit the people and the ones involved to make a right decision. If we educate the masses and tell them the details about the various issues we stand for or feel about, then the people would be better knowledgeable. And hope is that, in the end, truth alone shall win. Satyameva Jayate.
(Image from wikipedia, the tribute to Theo Van Gogh, it is De Schreeuw (The Scream), the symbol of freedom of speech.)