You are currently viewing Privilege Notices to Kiran Bedi and Om Puri – India losing Freedom of Speech – 2 Sep 11

Privilege Notices to Kiran Bedi and Om Puri – India losing Freedom of Speech – 2 Sep 11

When we were still in Germany, I read news that the Indian parliament made a resolution and accepted the main demands of Anna Hazare and the protesters. So the protesters have left the public places in Delhi and life has come back to normal. Not completely for everyone though! While India’s population is waiting for the government to take action and to change something about corruption, they started something else: taking vengeance on the speakers of the protests.

When people protested at the Ramlila Maidan, there were also some famous people among them who were invited to come to the stage and take the microphone. One of them is Om Puri, a popular Bollywood actor. Another one is Kiran Bedi, one of the most important members of Anna Hazare’s team. Om Puri, in the heat of the moment and with the atmosphere of the crowd in front of him, called the members of parliament incompetent and even illiterate. Kiran Bedi accused them of wearing different masks, which is a metaphor for dishonesty.

You ask yourself what the big deal is? They were in protest and of course had to say something against those whom they were protesting against. The parliament members are not very amused though and they issued privilege notices against them. The speaker of the house still has to consider this matter but it could lead to serious reprimands and, as I read, even up to 15 days in prison for the popular speakers.

You can imagine the uproar in the media and country when this news got out in public. Doesn’t this sound horribly undemocratic? Can you not anymore say what you believe in this country? Will anybody who says something like this against the government and politicians have to go to prison? I can promise you that there are millions of people who have said worse things about these politicians! In any political debate you can hear politicians accusing each other of dishonesty. Why would Kiran Bedi face charges for what she said? And why did they not give a privilege notice to Anna Hazare himself who repeatedly said that these members of parliament were enemies of the country and ate the money of the country? Many people have expressed their anger publicly, why are they not punished, too?

I like the statement of another Bollywood actor, Anupam Kher: ‘I am with Om Puri. He said nothing else than what millions of people say in their homes every day.’ I was surprised when I read the statement of another member of the team Anna, Arvind Kejriwal: ‘That is their personal comment, not one of our group.’ The next day however I was happy to see the team united again and to hear their statement that they all are with Kiran Bedi, who refuses to apologize for what she said, no matter which punishment she will have to face.

Om Puri actually apologized for his words and insulting language. In my eyes he did not need to. Even if the parliament punishes them with jail time, they will be big heroes in the Indian populations. Millions of people will stand in front of the parliament repeating their words in order to go to prison, if saying such things is a crime in this country! Why should people not say that the members of parliament are dishonest if there are so many members of parliament and of the assemblies who went to jail and so many more who are facing serious criminal charges such as murder, attempt to murder and rape?

When you see the behavior of those respected members of parliament, you really have to wonder. When I watched a parliament session of the Indian parliament online, my European friends who watched along had to laugh because everybody there is shouting around, nobody listens to the speaker and they even throw things like shoes, papers and chairs at each other! We have even seen members of parliament and the assemblies getting into real fights there! They don’t show any kind of manners and like in a Kindergarten the speaker of the house keeps on trying to create order. She continuously says ‘Please sit down, sit down, quiet please!’ but nobody seems to care! They don’t have manners there but want everybody else to criticize them only with sweet words?

What about the member of parliament who said that Anna Hazare is fully corrupt himself? Should he not face charges, too? Or is it only a crime to insult a member of parliament, not any other person? If this starts, no cartoonist will be able to draw his pictures and have them published in newspapers or magazines. In this case, critical articles will be suppressed and no other opinion will be heard than the opinion of the government. I still cannot believe that this will be the situation in India. We live in a democracy and have freedom of speech! It is unbelievable.

I read in newspapers that after seeing the role of media in the success of Anna Hazare’s movement the government wants to keep eyes on the media. They want to create a committee that will advise the government how they can better manage and maybe control the media. We know that the media played a big role in this case but are we going to get censorship of media now because people stood up for their rights? If anybody in future will criticize the government, like Om Puri and Kiran Bedi did, will they be punished and media will be prohibited from publishing such statements? Whether you supported Anna Hazare or not, you have to see that such actions by the government limit your basic right for freedom of speech.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Martin

    It looks as though they try everything to get the situation under control again. They finished the fast off very nicely and now they make people understand that this should not happen again in this way. The public however is awake now, they know what is going on and are not going to just sit by and let it happen. I love this spirit!

  2. Dita

    Story from life I heard reasantly –
    Two esotheric people sit in a cafee and one of them in a conspirative tone says: LIGHT is coming over our country and over our government also. The other one asks – but why so little light? The first one answers – the government just would not cope with more, my dear.

  3. Tricia

    Coming from a country where freedoms of speech is so prominent and depended upon, I find it hard to believe that such things go punished in other countries…I agree with you in that are people not allowed to express their personal opinion? Or is the world a place a place of bondage then? Since when we’re words a crime? Maybe it’s something that I just don’t understand.

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