The true face of The Wire

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.

A fierce controversy is going on in India these days about allegations of fake news and gross fabrications by the well-known online anti-establishment Indian portal, and a police investigation is going on in this connection against its founders, Siddhartha Varadarajan and others.

The portal has admitted the truth of the allegations and has apologized, though it has contended that it was misled.

I am not going into this controversy, nor with the other controversies relating to this portal, but would like to deal with another issue pertaining to it.

Ever since it was started in 2015, has proclaimed itself as a defender of secularism and freedom of speech in India. I too support secularism, but secularism is a two way, not one way, traffic.  True secularism means condemning extremism and feudal and backward practices among both Hindus and Muslims in India. It will not do to only condemn evils in Hindu society, but not condemn evils in Muslim society.

I have always strongly condemned atrocities on minorities and evils in Hindu society e.g. casteism, and looking down on dalits. But I have also condemned evils in Muslim society e.g. the backward and feudal burqa, sharia, madarsas, and maulanas. My views in detail are given in the article below :

But has always refused to condemn these evils in Muslim society. Moreover, whenever I sent my articles to the portal for publication, expressing my views critical of sharia, burqa, madarsas, and maulanas, the portal owners always refused to publish them.

Even if those who run the portal disagreed with my views, they could have published my articles with a disclaimer that the views are my own, and the publishers do not share them. But does not even permit expression of views they do not share. Is this support of freedom of speech, which the portal so loudly professes to champion and flaunt ?

For example, in a recent article published in Siddhartha Varadarajan condemned the vilification and sidelining of Muslims in India. In response I wrote an article stating that while I too condemn this, I would like to present a deeper analysis of the issue. I sent this article to Mr Varadarajan with the request that it be published, but the request was refused. I then sent it to which published it.

Recently, the senior editor of Arfa Khanum Sherwani tweeted :

So when will we be ready to accept ( and elect ) a Muslim Prime Minister of India?

To which I tweeted in response :

It is silly to even pose such a question. A good leader is one who can take the country forward, & his religion or caste r irrelevant.

Arfa responded immediately by tweeting :

What a profound comment to make, justice! Ha ha ha

Tweets that followed next are given in this link:

Since Arfa felt offended at my calling her ( in lighter vein ) Begum Arfa, and suggesting she should be our first Prime Minister, I apologized. But I stick to my stand that it is silly to ask for a PM of a particular religious community.

To my mind, the commitment of to secularism is superficial, as is its commitment to freedom of speech and expression. It is time the true face of such ‘liberals’ and ‘enlightened’ people in India be revealed.


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