India is a democratic country that allows a variety of freedoms, and the most used among them is “Freedom of Expression”. We can, thus, see people using various languages in different parts of the country to present diverse opinions through many media without offending anybody. Our Constitution guarantees this freedom and our government safeguards it.
But is it the real scenario?
A few days back, film-maker Karan Johar apologised for using ‘Bombay’ in his movie ‘Wake Up Sid’ instead of the coveted desi term ‘Mumbai’. It was preceded by MNS goons vandalising movie theatres screening the movie and Raj Thackeray virtually threatening the film maker.
Karan apologised and flashed a sorry note in the beginning of the film and the controversy died, giving enough popularity to the publicity hungry leader before assembly elections.
This was not the first time that the ‘Sena’ politics of ‘Marathi Manoos’ collided with tinsel town. Not long ago, a B-grade flick ‘Deshdrohi’, by an unknown film maker whose name sounded like SRK, grabbed headlines after fierce opposition from MNS, for the perceived wrong portrayal of Marathis, catapulting him to stardom.
This goonda politics of MNS originates from its parent organisation Shiv Sena, which first exploited the issue of ‘Marathi Manoos’ in the 1960s.
Immediately after the Karan Johar incident, film maker Hansal Mehta, in a strongly worded blog, recounted the horrifying consequences he faced after he supposedly offended Shiv Sena with the way he showed Marathis in his movie ‘Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar’.
He recalled how his office was vandalised by Shiv Sena goons who thrashed him and coloured his face black. Also, how he was summoned to Khar Danda, the area he had portrayed in his movie and was made to apologise in front of 20,000 odd people and was forced to touch feet of a village woman to make amends. And all this was done under the leadership of the party’s youth leader, none other than Raj Thackeray.
Not only movies, but arguably the second biggest obsession in India, cricket has faced the ire of ‘Sena’ style politics, too. Nobody can forget the digging of Feroz Shah Kotla pitch just a day before an India-Pakistan match by Sena which called the sporting event ‘unpatriotic’.
The incidents, though very shameful, failed to wake up our police and political system. The opposition Congress, which is now the ruling party in Maharashtra, turned a blind eye to this vandalism.
Looking at it from a global perspective, we can easily draw parallels between the politics of Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and al Qaeda.
If you think I am being too harsh, let me give you a few examples about the similarities in the working styles as well as aims of these organisations.
Al Qaeda is against anything that it considers opposed to its own interpretation of Islam. Similarly, Shiv Sena and MNS oppose anything that doesn’t fit their interpretation of ‘Marathi Manoos’.
Al Qaeda thinks only Muslims have a right to live on earth as they have a global sphere of influence. In the same fashion, Shiv Sena and MNS think that only Marathis should live in Maharashtra.
Al Qaeda considers Muslims a separate- and superior- community from the people of rest of the world. And on the same lines, the Senas almost consider Maharashtra as a separate ‘country’ which does not belong to the rest of India and other Indians shouldn’t be allowed in the state.
And most importantly, be it al Qaeda, Shiv Sena or MNS, they all resort to violent means of opposition to have it their way.
Over the years, we have become a little immune to these goings-on and have shed all hope of action from authorities, but still I would like to make an appeal for the world’s sake: Please stop them as we are not ready for another al Qaeda kind of organisation in our own country.
Wake Up Government!