Mossamat Akhera Bibi who ?
That is exactly the point.
You are gangraped by seven hoodlums and then you witness your two teen teenage daughters gangraped all night, you are then dumped in your house locked up to suffer alone agonizingly over the fate of your daughters and your husband but then you did not write a controversial novel on your sexuality. So cut over to your liberated cousin from across the border. They did not even lay a finger on her but you have the Central Government, 2 State Governments, 3 National Parties, the entire national media and us bloggers too, all losing sleep over her.
Welcome to the theatre of the absurd also called the great Indian Political Tamasha.
So you have an otherwise conservative BJP defending what they would have in different circumstances called licentiousness (and now fashionably it is referring to as “freedom of expression”) while the Congress and the Communists are running for cover hoping its just a bad dream that will go away.
Perhaps Brinda Karat could provide us with some perspective here ?
Is the Taslima Nasreen issue really about freedom of speech and expression ?
Is there more to it than meets the eye ?
Is this merely a stunt on her part to garner some P.R. in the run up to her next book, if there was one ?
As Nitin rightly points out granting her citizenship is a matter of due process. Given the number of illegals from Bangladesh who have been settled in India much thanks to the Congress, giving her asylum is a non-issue undeserving of national debate.
If all she wanted was a quiet refuge to carry on with her writing, there is hardly the need for this drama in the national capital, she could very easily have faded away from the public eye to retire into any non-descript corner of India, after all there were no killer suqads on the look out to hunt her down.
That she chose to make a political statement or two and a path fraught political ramifications can only mean she doesnt mind the controversy, the negative attention.
Which brings us back to the original question, is this really about freedom ?
Is India really a illiberal society ?
What is this debate be really about ?
Given the low threshold to provoke a mob into violence and the permissiveness with which the rule of law is flouted by the high and the low, frankly this debate is not about the society being illiberal about a controversial writer.
This debate is really about the lack of respect for the rule of law under every and all circumstances by everyone – the provoked and the provactor, the offender and the offended.
If we are to really debate freedom of expression, it Â ought to be a constitutional one that goes beyond specific individuals and specific circumstances.
If we are to be serious about freedom of expression that debateÂ ought to be a reflection of what we as a society are prepared to be allowed to be taken for granted. After all every social group despite all its liberal pretenses has its sacred cows that it deems to be above and beyond public rebuke or debate.
The Congress has its Nehru-Gandhis, the BJP its Gods, the Communists have Marx and Lenin, the Christians have their gripe with Da Vinci Code, the Muslims with Rushdie and Taslima, the Dalits with Ambedkar, the Tribals with whoever it is they swear their politics by, the psuedo intellectuals in the media have their sanctimony, political correctness, world peace, global warming and Mother Teresa.
Let us get real and first aspire for a law abiding society where “Respect for Rule Law” becomes that sacred cow that is above and beyond all public rebuke and debate.
Meanwhile there is enough Freedom of Expression for all of us to get by, the Sacred Cows willing…….