FIRs vs Free Speech, the Signature Tune of Indian Fascism - By Prem Shankar Jha - IAMC
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FIRs vs Free Speech, the Signature Tune of Indian Fascism – By Prem Shankar Jha

The Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi police’s decision to slap no fewer than ten charges, ranging from criminal conspiracy to sedition, against sitting MP Shashi Tharoor, the respected journalist and editor of National Herald, Mrinal Pande; Rajdeep Sardesai of India Today TV; Zafar Agha, editor of Qaumi Awaaz; and three other journalists of Caravan magazine, paints a stark picture of the desperation that has seized the Bharatiya Janata Party and its parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, as it begins to see the power that it had seized in 2014 and consolidated in 2019, slipping out its grasp.

The method it has chosen to revive its fortunes is one with which we have grown wearily familiar with in the past seven years: use the enormous suo moto powers of arrest and incarceration that the Indian constitution, and previous governments, have given to the police to act against her or  whomsoever their masters desire, spit upon the right of habeas corpus, and imprison and terrorise her or him for an indefinite period of time to break their spirit.

In the past seven years, as the Narendra Modi government has bumbled from one economic blunder to the next, it has come to rely more and more on stoking communal animosity, stifling dissent through the misuse of police powers, buying or blackmailing opposition members into joining the BJP, and using TV and other media to build a larger-than-life image of the prime minister….