India is a tolerant and democratic country and “people don’t need to teach us that”, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said on Friday as he warned DU students to be wary of attempts to divide the country.
“We should be wary of the attempts to divide India. Indian society has always been tolerant and has maintained relationships with people through debates. We are a democratic and tolerant nation and we don’t need people to teach us that,” Swamy said while addressing students at Delhi University.
The seminar titled ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression under Constitution of India’ was organised by students of Law Faculty.
The event was supposed to be held on March 4 but it was cancelled by the Dean on grounds of “not following proper procedure”.
The students, alleging “curtailment of freedom speech and expression” decided to conduct the program by reinviting the guests along with Swamy.
Swamy also mentioned how he was not allowed to speak at Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC) after the college had cancelled its programme yesterday.
Taking a jibe at JNU students, he said that “they incited stone pelters and separatists on February 9 and this is not freedom of speech”.
Addressing the audience in the inaugural speech, Dean of Law Faculty, Ved Kumari raised concerns over how women have been kept silent in the debate about nationalism.
“If women stand up on International Women’s Day and ask for their rights and for their freedom from patriarchy then they shouldn’t be called anti-nationals,” Kumari said.
She also said that universities should allow spaces for academic discussions of dissent to function properly.
Speaking on the law of sedition, former Chief justice of the Patna High Court, Iqbal Ahmed Ansari said that sedition is an intensely debatable subject.
“Laws are norms set by governments and they don’t remain static. Essence of democracy is to agree to disagree and if we don’t see this being maintained then we will see shoes and furniture being thrown instead of debates. Freedom of speech and expression is the first condition for liberty,” he said.