By: Abdul Noor
"A political prisoner is someone who is out fighting for his or her people’s rights and freedom and is imprisoned for that alone"
- Leonard Peltier
Democracy is the most accepted form of governance there is. It is so only because in democracy the government is by the people, of the people and for the people. It is the people what matters the most. So evidently the freedom to express their concerns over the governance is important and necessary. The constitution of India of course guarantees this. But still, it has to be said that people of India lack this freedom in one way or another. Dissent is in all ways important in democracy and it is the right of the people to point against the government if it does not function its duties accordingly.
Imprisoning a person just because his or her idea is against the government is an act which disgusts democracy. A person should be able to express his ideas even though it is against the government. Suppressing such person using the powers granted to the government by arresting and detaining them is violative of their fundamental rights by the same authority who should protect it. Detaining those who oppose the government is a typical strategy of dictators and it shouldn’t be present in a democratic country.
A political prisoner is someone who is imprisoned because they have opposed or criticized the government responsible for their imprisonment. Detaining those who raise their voice against the government in custody is the most effective way for them to suppress the voice of the people from being heard. Dissent is an essential characteristic of democracy. Detaining people just because they hold a different view and speak against the government essentially in a way kill the essence of democracy.
It has to be noted that every single personalities who stood for the right of the people against the ruling authority had once in their life time were detained as political prisoners just because they raised their voice against them. From Mahatma Ghandi to Aung San Suu kyi every single people who stood against injustice were detained in custody. It has to be said that this kind of power the government holds essentially destroys the harmony of the so called largest democratic country in the world.
The constitution of India grants several fundamental rights to its citizen. It is the duty of the government to protect those at any cost. Detaining people just because they posses varying concepts from the ruling body is definitely a violation of the fundamental rights. Further for the efficient working of the democracy, people should raise their concerns against the government whenever necessary. Efficiency of the democracy is only at its fullest if the people react against the injustice in governance. It has to be remembered that in democracy nothing is more important than people.
But when the government detains the people who react against injustice to cover up the doing of the government, it essentially destroys what our forefathers stood up for. It has to be noted that our freedom fighters were political prisoners because they stood against the British Government in India for the freedom of the nation. The fact that there are political prisoners even now after seven decades of independence and it is increasing day by day is a slap in the face for the democracy. As a matter of fact, the large number of political prisoners indicates the efficiency of the government.
All is well while the dissent is in jail. When there is someone to rise against the government for their illegal actions, they are not safe. They can’t conduct those acts while there is someone outside who can point out the injustice. This is of course the main reason why democracy turns out to be the best form of governance. But what if these people who can raise their voice can be suppressed by the government? What if the government can detain those people by stating different reasons like security of the nation? That is what political prisoners are. What they did was they stood up for the people of India. When they are suppressed all is well.
There is no revolt in the street because everyone is detained. This kills democracy as a whole. The political prisoners is in India is growing day by day. If this trends goes on India will have more political prisoners than the colonial India ever had. And it’s a shame that it happens in the so called largest democratic nation in the world.
Political prisoners have never been a new thing in the modern day India. Although there were large number of political prisoners during the colonial rule because our forefathers struggled for independence of the nation and its people, there is no significant downfall in the number of political prisoners even after seven decades after independence.
EVENTS THAT INCREASED POLITICAL PRISONERS IN INDIA
· Lots of people were arrested just because they opposed the government during the emergency period under the then prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi. They were held political prisoners just because they expressed their opposing view against the government.
· In 2018, there was a mass attack on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon, Maharashtra. It was a hot political issue as the attack was by people which included the members of the ruling party. But the government of Maharashtra instead of arresting those who had real involvement in the attack arrested other people who had different views from the government.
· When the Citizenship Amendment Act was brought up by the government of India, protests were raised from different parts of the nation. It has to be noted that these people has every right to protect against any Act which violates their rights. But, the government of India arrested these people just because they raised their voice against them. It also should be noted that even the people who merely supplied food to the protesters were arrested as political prisoners. The fact that Indian citizens can’t exercise their fundamental right without getting arrested by the government is fearful. It also shows out how much the ruling authority fears its people.
· Similar acts were done by the government in Kashmir in recent times. Drastic constitutional changes were brought up to the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Soon after that what the government of India did was that they house arrested many of the top leaders of Jammu and Kashmir including former chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is important for the state to have the power to arrest those who are against national security. If a person by any means is a threat to the national security he or she must be detained for the safety of the people of the nation regardless of what the act of the person is. But raising voice against and pointing out the injustice by the government is in not against the national security in any manner. In fact it is what saves the nation from the exploitation by the ruling authority.
In democracy, the government is elected by the people for the people and the government is of course of the people. It is the duty of the government to protect the people of India. The government essentially serves the people of India rather than ruling them. When the government takes action which violates the people’s right, they have the right to question this. As a matter of fact only if the people question the injustice of the government does a democracy be efficient to its fullest.
Thus the people have the duty to raise their voice against injustice and to keep the government enacting illegal Acts. But when the government is in the position to suppress the people by keeping as political prisoners, the government is questioning the very existence of democracy in the largest democratic nation in the world. The government should not be allowed to keep people who have differing view from them as political prisoners.
In a country like India, this cannot be and should not be allowed. By taking away the right of the people to question the government by detaining them in custody is essentially a principle that belongs to the dictatorship governments. How can we still call India a democratic country if the people of India are not even allowed to exercise their fundamental rights? In what sense is India still the largest democratic country in the world?
With the increase of political prisoners, the people all around the nation are getting used to it. The arrest of the people who protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act is an example. The arrest of a doctor who saved many children’s life even when the government didn’t supply the oxygen cylinders is another example. This shouldn’t happen in a country like India. Our forefathers fought for independence of the nation with a dream of a nation where all the people are treated equally and the government protects the people as a guardian angel. If it is from the government we need protection from then to whom will we run for help in the largest democratic nation in the world?
Democracy is of course the best form of government since it is the people who are the most important. The existence of freedom of dissent in a democratic country is as important as the existence of democracy itself. In another sense, democracy is merely a word without the freedom of dissent for the people of the nation. A democratic government works the most efficiently when the government are questioned by the people for its mistakes. When the government corrects these mistakes and move forward for the betterment of the people, a democratic nation offers the best way of living to its citizens. But when the government suppress the people who raise their voice against the injustice of the government by imprisoning them just because they have an ideology which contrast with that of government, it questions the very existence of democracy.
In no way in a country like India such acts of the government should be entertained. What good is democracy if the people are not allowed to express their disagreements with the government of the nation? The government should know that, in a democracy they serve for the people of India and it is their duty to protect the people at any cost.
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