Tollywood Actor Parambrata Replies To Hate Messages Calling Him ‘Deshdrohi’
Tollywood actor Parambrata Chattopadhyay has been trolled on social media for sharing a speech by JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar stating… “if… propagating ideas like these is sedition and makes one anti-national, I’d rather be one!”
Parambrata initially responded to the hate messages with: “…. The brainwash of the middle class is nearing completion. Still, requesting my dear haters… to review the speech, the stand, and also the situation, with a mind free of ‘nationalism’ taught by the government, and with a heart full of love for the real millions of our country….’
As the vitriol continued to pour in – labelling him “anti-national”… “traitor”… “deshdrohi”… – and the cries to “ban him”, “shoot him” grew louder, Parambrata penned this piece –
Here it goes –
A couple of days ago, I shared a speech by Kanhaiya Kumar, the alleged anti-national, left-wing student leader from JNU on Facebook and stated that if by sharing this I’m termed an anti-national, I don’t mind.
I have received quite a few hate messages, abuses involving my mother (may God rest her soul) and threats to be unfollowed etc. Some have even advised that I should stay on in Bangladesh.
My first reaction was that of contemptuous laughter because how to take people seriously who respond to a political debate with such threats? But the more I am thinking of it the more it is saddening me. Because the people who are writing these hate messages are none other than my own fellow countrymen.
So I hereby wish to clarify my stand and also engage in a dialogue on a few issues which demand one. I’ll tell you why I agree with Kanhaiya Kumar and I’ll share my thoughts on our India, nationalism, anti-nationalism. No matter how much the hate messages have saddened me, I still hope that sense will prevail over hot blood and state-fed ideas of nationalism.
WE ALL HAVE A SAY
It’s damn easy to generate a heady dose of nationalist fervour in our heads by calling the country “Maa”… “Motherland” (it’s funny though how the lovers of this mother don’t even think once before using an expletive of the worst kind that involves the same idea of the mother towards me or the people demanding a democratic critique of state policies and decisions). Many others and I too happily say Vande Mataram or sing songs where the land is in the mould of a mother archetype. But in the end, I believe in the rational explanation of a state/country.
I’m a law-abiding citizen of a country, I pay my bills, I pay my taxes, and have the full right to question actions of the government that in turn become the actions of the entire country. You, I, we all have a say in the way the country we live in is governed and also the right to express dislike for anything that we don’t approve of. To me, this is the idea of democracy, and also of being a citizen of a country.
In context, what did Kanhaiya Kumar do? Not that I know him personally, I’m deducing purely based on material available on electronic, print and social media. He, along with a large group of students organised a gathering where voices were being raised against casteism, religious politics, modern-day imperialism in the name of foreign investment and development and separatist politics. Now added charges were that he was shouting for a free Kashmir and a free Manipur. Even that’s absolutely fine by democratic norms, but anyway it’s been proven that he wasn’t, and that the videos depicting him asking for a free Kashmir were “doctored” and “manipulated”.
Reportedly there were also slogans that anticipated the breaking up of the Indian Union and the destruction of the country. This I strongly oppose, mainly because such volatile comments made in public can give rise to even more volatile mass reactions leading to riots and other horrid violent occurrences. But there’s no connection of Kanhaiya Kumar to those comments, they were made by outsiders, and no body of law has yet managed to come up with any evidence that suggests he had anything to do with those.
Now let’s look a little deeper into the alleged demand for a free Kashmir and a free Manipur. He might not have asked for it but I would like to argue the point anyway. Firstly, I have deep respect for the Indian Union. I sincerely believe that despite so many cultural and religious differences, increasing corruption, political violence, the fact that the Union is 69 years old and still going strong is on its own a fantastic achievement. And as an Indian, I take Pride in it. But are all the members of this Union in it by choice? Voluntarily? Are all members of this Union and their respective cultures given equal opportunities and importance? In defining Indianness? In popular culture?
When a state suppresses public opinion and tries to coerce a certain section to be with a more powerful majority section, then there’s bound to be dissent. In course of time we have only become too used to the idea of having Kashmir as a part of the image (more than anything else) of “Incredible India”. Dissent has only grown in the minds of Kashmiris who demanded that they get to exercise their democratic right, but the Indian state has consistently ruled the region with force as opposed to understanding and democratic dialogue. Meanwhile, religious fanatics surfaced and started using the growing Kashmiri dissent in their own favour.
I’m deeply critical of this process of Islamising the right of self-determination of Kashmir, but I’m also vehemently opposed to the Indian state’s constant effort to manufacture consent among Indians by which we forget the history and context of Kashmir and start blindly, jingoistically believing in the fed idea “from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India is one”.
Not same, but similar are the situations in case of more than one Northeast state. Those who have advised me to stop intellectualising a ‘nationalist’ matter sitting in my comfy AC room: do you remember the names of the Northeast states and their capitals? Have you ever visited them to get to know the people and their culture? Ok, let’s name one filmmaker from Assam, or let’s sing one song from Nagaland, just one.
Just a gentle reminder, when Bangladesh was fighting for their independence from Pakistan in 1971, for a large section of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis were “anti-nationals” as they wanted to break away from Pakistan. They didn’t really want to know about the terrible accounts of neglect and torture that the Bangladeshis had suffered at the hands of Pakistani lawmakers and army. For Pakistan, India was the collaborator of the anti-nationals back then. The Bangladeshi freedom fighters have gone down in the pages of history as martyrs and patriots. If the Indian government continues its iron-hand treatment of the fringe provinces, time might not be far away when sporadic actions and slogans for freedom will turn into mass movements and the perspectives as to who’s the oppressor, who’s an anti-national and who’s a collaborator will start changing. After all, these notions all stand on a very thin line and depend on which side one is on. Also, on which way the international opinion is swinging.
What I write here is made more relevant by the fact that right now I’m in Bangladesh, around February 21, World Language Day, immortalised for us Bengalis as Bhasha Shahid Dibas, the day when Bangladeshis started demanding Bengali as their official language, a demand that later blossomed into their final war for freedom.
So, let’s get back to our Indian nationalism. My sense of nationhood is based on the society that I’m born in, the people of different race, religion and class that I’ve grown up with and have known to be my fellow countrymen. The mix of cultures and customs that I’ve grown up amidst, and that I’ve imbibed so far. The understanding of my history, society and culture that I’ve gained with time, knowing its past, present and attempting to gauge its probable transformation in the future. The good, bad and the ugly of the country I inhabit which is called India. I’m proud of the good, critical of the bad and will always strive to work in my own little way to eradicate practices that I deem ugly. Why? Because I feel responsible towards what I call my country, because I love it. All of this creates my sense of nationhood and my sense of nationalism is based on this sense.
My pride as an Indian reaches a high when efforts are made to let the ‘development’ drive percolate right down to the poorest, when I see more and more children getting proper food, shelter and education, when I see caste is no more important when it comes to marriages, when I see more youth getting employed in a rightful manner. I feel happy when I see measures are being taken to eliminate female infanticide, when I see measures being taken against rape, and discrimination against poor people. Display of new armoury, warfare equipment or a nuclear bomb doesn’t make me feel extra nationalist. My nationalism is not based on spewing hatred for the whole lot of Pakistani people through deplorable Bollywood masala, or having a belittling and holier-than-thou attitude for Bangladesh or a saffron rejection of ‘polluting Western elements’.
And how would I define anti-national activities? I can speak for myself… killing all indigenous small-scale industries to give way to national and foreign monopoly capitalists is being anti-national, according to me. Allowing close to 50 per cent foreign investment in the country’s defence is anti-national to me. Saffronising the country’s education system and thus corroding the land’s cultural lineage is anti-national to me. The death of Dalit students going unnoticed is anti-national to me. Trying to project a pretty picture of growth by building big roads to facilitate “Make in India” while thousands of farmers and tea garden workers are dying every day is an awfully anti-national situation to me. Thousand-year-old cottage and craft industries dying due to government neglect in the heart of India’s so-called development hub also goes against my sense of nationalism. Severe cuts in research-based studies, especially in social sciences, is a major anti-national step, I feel.
Call me dated, naive, leftist. Call me Congress supporter, call me anything you like…. Fact remains some of us have never been into partisan politics, because I feel that only narrows one’s vision and understanding and makes one practice selective awareness of issues.
Let’s not forget: It’s an overdose of this much-talked-about nationalism, an overt and aggressive form of it, that led to the rise of the likes of Hitler, Mussolini or Pinochet.
To sum it up, let’s speak, write, demonstrate in our own little ways against the politics of terror, be it fundamentalist, religious, sectarian or state sponsored…. From ISIS to Khmer Rouge, from Islamist barbarians to the saffron vandals, from Paris to Pathankot, from Syria to Manipur, from Nanur to Nandigram, from JeM to the JNU incident.
And yes, feel free to unfriend me on Facebook if you feel really nationalistic in this climate. Otherwise, those with a different point of view than mine but with belief in democratic means, let’s engage in a healthy dialogue.
Glory to mankind.
Long live the SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF INDIA.
Source: The Telegraph
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