About a year or so ago, few people knew who Gurmeeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan was. Then came a trailer. MSG: Messenger of God (Later changed to MSG:The Messenger). For a while I thought this is a spoof. Waited for The Viral Fever or AIB to claim credit for it. And then we realised this was supposed to be a serious film. And we all started Googling Ram Rahim Insan to figure out what was going on.
We learned that he is a big deal. Claims millions of supporters, is extremely rich, and quite influential. He runs Dera Sacha Sauda, and his official title is His Excellency, Huzoor Maharaj Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan. We also learned that he is facing two murder charges, a sexual exploitation charge, and bizarrely, a charge for forcing castration of 400 men, to bring them “closer to God”. Raja Sen reviewed MSG to write “this is not a movie”, and refused to give any stars to it, but the producers claimed the film was a big hit. It is much the same for the man himself. While those outside sneer, and think this is not a spiritual leader, his support base is strong and solidly behind him. How solidly? Look at his Wikipedia page. No mention of any of the accusations listed above. They will defend whenever they feel he’s threatened.
Which brings us to Kiku Sharda. Another guy whose name we didn’t know. Oh we saw him, sure. We saw him with Kapil Sharma, and on other “comedy” programs on TV, but we only learned his name because he was sent to custody yesterday. His crime? Mimicking the Baba. So let’s get this clear. For a script written by someone else, outfit by someone else, and direction by someone else, Kiku Sharda, the actor is being sent to jail? Why? How? As usual, it’s all political.
Dera Sacha Sauda is in Haryana. It has a sizeable support base. Khattar government simply doesn’t want to offend them. It is rumoured that the cases against the Baba are proceeding at a slow pace because of political patronage. And yet, protecting someone is one thing, it is hard for state to send someone to jail for a crime they didn’t commit. That’s where the judiciary comes in. And the restrictions on our freedom of speech.
We all believe that freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed in the constitution, right? Yes and no. Yes it was guaranteed when the constitution was made, but no, you can’t practice it, and the reason behind it is our very own, darling of the fake liberals, Pandit Nehru. After independence, Nehru was shocked to discover that some people speak against him. He tried to ban them, even arrest them, but unfortunately the courts said that criticising the government is the right of the people. And so we came to the first amendment of Indian constitution. The first amendment restricted freedom of speech on a variety of pretexts. Not giving offence to religions was just another vote bank ploy. Now that ploy is used by all religions and sects. Thus was started the process of imposing restrictions on freedom of speech that has led to the ridiculous position today. The courts are now imposing restriction on ridiculing a frankly ridiculous and maybe dangerous person.
This is dangerous. If we are making irreverence illegal, we make violence against “blasphemy” understandable. I wouldn’t like to live in a society that demands I respect anyone and everyone who calls himself Holy. Zakir Naik followers could well make a case that ridiculing him is an insult to their religion. Holiness is earned, not dictated. Holiness is definitely not imposed by the full force of law. You feel bad about something? Well, I say tough luck. Criticise them if you want, but using violence, either self inflicted or state sanctioned, is morally wrong. All who really love liberty should oppose this.
Kiku Sharda was in a comic routine. This was not an act meant to inflame. This was not meant to incite violence. The acts of Azam Khan, Kamlesh Tiwari, and Akbaruddin Owaisi do fall in those categories. But of course two of these three roam free. While Kiku Sharda faces long trial, huge expenses and possible jail time. How is this justice?
And lastly, as with everything related to this Baba, there is a ludicrous irony. In 2007 His Excellency, Hazoor Maharaj Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan was accused of hurting Sikh sentiments because he dressed up as Guru Govind Singh Ji. There was a court case, apology to Akal Takht etc. And now he’s after a comedian. Ridiculous, funny, ironical, dangerous. Very dangerous.