Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The 'blinkered' rights

The first phase of the Kanchipeeth Shankaracharya episode lasted a couple of months. It began with the arrest of Jayendra Saraswati in Mehbubnagar in Andhra Pradesh and ended with his bail being granted by Supreme Court. This was followed by the junior pontiff Vijyendra Saraswati being bailed out by a local court.

In the second phase, it seems, journalists and media houses are being targeted. The chief target is S Gurumurthy. Being a devotee of the Kanchikamkoti Peetham, Gurumurthy plunged headlong to save the 2,500-year-old mutt through his columns in The New Indian Express.

Jayalalitha has targeted him and the publishers of The New Indian Express and Tughlak for his writings. She has a history of filing more than 200 defamation cases against various Tamil Nadu publications, including The Hindu. She regards the Press as an adversary and journalists as troublemakers. The Press in Tamil Nadu is not as free as in Mumbai and New Delhi. The Daily Dinamalar which has been publishing news items and features sympathetic to the mutt, too, has been at the receiving end.

Had Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi done this, the Editors Guild of India, journalist organisations and intellectuals of all hues would have launched protests. But the messiahs of Press freedom are mum. Why? After all, is it not clear that after the bail of Jayendra Saraswati, the Tamil Nadu Government had no prima facie case against him? Yet Vijayendra Saraswati was arrested without any additional facts in the Shankararaman murder case. Are Shankaracharyas not entitled to human rights?

Earlier, S Gurumurthy was summoned by the police to clarify certain things. The entire session was taped and part of it mixed with falsehood leaked to the Tamil weekly Nakkeeran alongwith pictures. At this juncture, Jayalalitha decided to arrest him. As luck would have it, the police could not trace him in Chennai as Gurumurthy had an official engagement in Mumbai. From Mumbai, advocate Mahesh Jethmalani faxed a notice to SIT SP Chennai on behalf of his client, inter-alia stating that his client would file a case against SIT. He also told him that his client has professional engagements till February 25 and he will come back to Chennai on February 26. Further, his Chennai lawyer R Shankaranarayanan, in a legal notice sent to SIT SP Premkumar, ASP SP Saktivelu and ADSP Udhay Shankar, said: "Now that you have deliberately leaked information to the media, you cannot have any objection to giving a CD or copy of the recorded video tape to my client.''

Gurumurthy was examined by SIT for writing articles, which, according to SIT, "throw the cue that you are acquainted with the facts and circumstances of this murder case.''

According to Shankaranarayanan, the SIT never took the consent of Gurumurthy for recording his statements and it was illegal. Stating that Gurumurthy was convinced that the statements attributed to him and the three photographs which appeared in Nakkeeran must have been leaked out by SIT, Shankaranarayanan said that while some statements were correct, others weren't.

Shankaranarayanan pointed out that no statement or any record, including photo or video records, shall be used for any purpose other than at any inquiry or trial in respect of the offence under investigation. In his writings, Gurumurthy has raised some uncomfortable questions. Going by her nature, Jayalalitha seems determined to arrest him. Maybe, for tactical reasons, bailable sections of the IPC have been inserted in the arrest warrant, but the whimsical State Government may add other charges to make a strong case under the non-bailable sections.

Those activists who were raising a hue and cry about Press freedom in Nepal haven't condemned the harassment of Daily Dinamalar, questioning veteran journalist Cho Ramaswamy and The New Indian Express managing director Manoj Santhalia. All these journalists and organisations have traditionally been more anti-DMK than anti-Jayalalitha.

The hostility of the Chief Minister towards them is compounding and attaining threatening levels. No human rights organisation has raised its voice against these atrocities of the State Government.

But this can be understood, for most of the so-called human rights organisations are foreign funded. For them, terrorists, separatists and extremists have human rights, not law abiding citizens, least of all the Shankaracharyas.


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