Is it a crime to celebrate Independence Day?

hursday, August 25th, 2011
The fundamental right to celebrate Independence Day has been denied by the state governments of Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala on 15th August 2011. Popular Front of India, like many other organisations, holds Independence Day celebrations every year in order to strengthen patriotism in popular minds and to defend the idea of democratic and secular India. Popular Front has been organising programmes on the Independence Day with Freedom Parade followed by public meeting from 2004 onwards in various parts of Kerala state. This programme by cadets in uniform with national flag in the forefront was later extended to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in 2008.
Freedom Parade has taken to the common masses Independence Day celebrations which were so far confined to official ceremonies. Freedom Parade has also gained appreciation from various corners as a positive step from among the members of minority Muslim community to strengthen our national values and civic sense. Also it is noteworthy that in spite of the apprehensions purposefully created by a section of police and media, not even a single incident of law and order problem was reported connected to this programme all through these years.

Unfortunately, some sections of the state police and administration of the above three states have been trying to prevent Popular Front of India from celebrating Independence Day. This year the state administration of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have denied permission to hold not only Freedom Parade but even public meetings by Popular Front on 15th August. The flimsy reasons cited vary from law and order problem to undesirability of separate celebrations by different groups. The administration and police in these states were behaving very rudely as if it were a criminal activity the Muslims celebrate Independence Day.

When Popular Front was denied permission even to convene public meeting on the Independence Day, many other political and non-political organisations were allowed public programmes of their choice on the day. Contrary to the claims of the state governments that Muslims are not discriminated against, not only in BJP governed Karnataka, but also in Kerala which is ruled by Congress-Muslim League combine, the anti-minority communal outfit RSS was allowed to hold public programmes on the day. While in Karnataka RSS men collectively lit lamps in midnight, the Kerala police have given escort to RSS parade which was in uniform in many districts, and in some places they carried swords!

In fact an interstate conspiracy of the state governments, administration and police in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu has resulted in the undemocratic and communally prejudiced act of preventing Popular Front from holding public programmes on the Independence Day. This can only be viewed as a sign of communal discrimination which is on increase in the administration and police in these three states. It is also an illustration of the fact that the so called secular governments in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are not different from the Hindutva BJP government in Karnataka, when it comes to delivering democratic rights to Muslims.

Popular Front of India wants to make it clear that thousands of its activists throughout India would not surrender their right to celebrate the nation’s independence which was gained by our forefathers by sacrificing their sweat, blood and life. The organisation will continue its democratic and legal fights till the fundamental right to join the Independence Day celebrations is again established. All democratic and legal means will be pursued by the organization. The act of denying permission to join Independence Day to a class of citizens amounts to questioning their citizenship itself. This must be viewed not only as an assault on the organisational freedom of Popular Front of India, but an aggression on the very idea of democratic and secular republic India. All social and human rights movements and concerned citizens must come forward to put a full stop the arrogance of this sort becoming increasingly rampant in our democratic institutions.

E. M. Abdul Rahiman


Popular Front of India

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