Bhopal: Hamid Ansari hits at intolerance, imposition of sedition law

BHOPAL: Second day at Indian History Congress was devoted to Gandhi and his contribution in nation building besides other topics including a session on MP.  Former vice president Hamid Ansari highlighted Gandhi’s contribution saying that he demonstrated nation building on principles of plurality. Ansari spoke on ‘The ethics of Gandhi and the dead weight of statecraft.’

“‘An instance of the deadweight of statecraft is the debate on the law of sedition. It was drafted by our colonial masters to suppress expression of opinion not to the liking of government,” said former vice president. In 1951 in Lok Sabha Nehru termed it as highly objectionable and obnoxious and said that it should have no place in law.

Notwithstanding this, it remained on the statute book till now and has been used frequently enough against those who articulate views not to the liking of the authorities. It was only in July last year that the Law Commission of India initiated a consultation paper to ascertain views on ‘public friendly amendments’ to the law ‘so that it is not misused to curb free speech.’

Hitting at present scenario, Ansari said that alongside our commitment to liberal democracy reflective of the ground reality of a plural society is being diluted in favour of illiberal or ethnic one premised on cultural vigilantism. Today we have pervasive intolerance forgetting Gandhi’s observations.

In other sessions on Gandhi, eminent historian Purushottam Agarwal said that Gandhi had opposed the idea of bounding ideas in realm of region or ideology. Prof Mridula Mukherjee underlined the idea of non-violence in contemporary times. She said that violence and nationalism have been mixed at present setting up a dangerous precedent. In other session several places in MP and its history were discussed specially Sanchi and stupas.

Akbar funded and protected
temples in Mathura and Vrindavan Eminent historian Prof Irfan Habib said that Akbar was an apt administrator and he had funded several temples in Mathura and Vrindavan.  Replying to a question on Ram Temple, Prof Habib said that there is no evidence of Ram Temple in history. He agreed that Aurangzeb had broken temple two temples and evidences are available in history. He also said that in Ujjain Jain temples were razed to make Shiv temple and all is recorded in history.

Replying to another question on Muslim issue, he said that abandoning a woman is not considered a crime but giving teen talaq is- it needs to be looked into- though giving talaq orally saying it for three times is bad and unacceptable. He also criticized wisdom of PM Modi, who often speaks on history. ‘He should first show his degree to the world and then talk on history,’ said Habib.

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