The Right to Freedom in Article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees Freedom of Speech and Expression to each individual stating that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” India is a home for many different communities and religions. Indian Population is poly-genetic and is an amazing amalgamation of various races and cultures. Learning different values, following different cultures, living in different scenarios leads to difference in opinions and beliefs amongst various societies. Yet, India has given each one of them a stage to express their emotions.
But using this freedom of speech to realize the political motives and supporting separatist movements is precarious for a secular state. In such an incident, Akbaruddin Owaisi crossed all the lines with the pure poison he served up in his speech at Adilabad on 24th December 2012. Akbaruddin Owaisi is floor leader of All India Majlis-e Ittihad al-Muslimin in Andhra Pradesh and MLA of Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly. Owaisi has got a past record of making inflammatory speeches. In 2007, he threatened to kill Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen. On 24th December 2012, while addressing a rally of about twenty five thousand people, he criticized the police force of India and called them impotent and raged all the Muslim community against the Hindus.
However, Mr. Owaisi is not the first person to thumb his nose at the laws of the land through hate-filled utterances. In India, Hindutva and Islamist leaders and activists have often mobilized men and materials through inflammatory hate speeches. Rival religious extremists survive by feeding off each other. VHP leader Praveen Togadia, the late Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, and BJP leader Varun Gandhi are prominent among the many in the Hindutva parivar to have made hate speeches. The law enforcing authorities prefer not to touch these extremists citing that their organizations will unleash violence in the event of an arrest. As a result, these hate speeches become a never ending phenomenon endangering the secularism of our nation.
Mahatma Gandhi used three monkeys to spread his message of ‘See no Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil’ and if someone is using these speeches as a tool of accomplishing political motives than its our duty that we act against such instances. Examples are required to be made of starting from Owaisi himself. Civil society needs to make it clear that those who incite hatred and violence against people on the basis of their religion or any other identity ought to be punished one way or another. If the police or courts won’t prosecute, convict and send them to jail, such would-be ‘leaders’ must be boycotted socially and politically. One should give zero leverage to all opportunist ‘leaders’ who love exploiting religion for political ends. Only harsh actions can curtail these speeches and the time is quite right to begin with.