The Devu Chodankar Issue in Goa

Some interesting events of Goa.

Shri Devu Chodankar is a shipping professional from Goa and is currently absconding. An arrest warrant has been issued against him because he failed to appear before the court after the court issued him a summons.

Here are the posts by Devu Chodankar that provoked a private and well respected citizen Shri Atul Pai Kane to file a police case. Police registered a FIR against Devu under 153(A) and 295(A).

IBNLive and NDTV are as usual linking Modi to the whole episode by claiming “Professional booked for Anti-Modi messages” (here and here). Had someone got booked for similar messages against Sonia Gandhi, the headline would have been “Right wing activist booked for communal posts on social media”.  Both the media houses are giving an impression that Devu is an ordinary citizen expressing his concern towards `Christian identity` and was arrested for the same. In reality Devu used words like “holocaust”, “mass killings of Christians” and also posted photos from Hitler’s concentration camps. Both NDTV and IBNLive have cleverly dropped this fact because that would have actually made sense to lot of their readers.

Both IBN and NDTV suffer  from a grandiose delusions where they think that they can influence public opinion by publishing motivated news articles but in reality they are losing their credibility day by day for publishing utter nonsensical articles which are far from facts.

Many people who talk of “responsibility” in freedom of speech clearly fail to see that the term is meaningless. Also let the courts decide what is responsible or not is also meaningless. Most often courts take forever to arrive at an judgement while the police and government continue to harass the person in question while the common-sense indicates that the issue is actually non-issue.

I think any speech which is limited to a person expressing his own views and does not come under the category of “credible threat” should not be subjected to any kind of court/legal purview. Devu Chodankar should not have been arrested just because most of us thought he was acting like a fanatic.

Article 153(A) was not applicable in this respect at all:

Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.

He was merely saying that a political group (BJP) is planning mass killings. BJP is not a religious, racial, group. If one goes through the statements of various media personalities, western scholars and Congress Spokes-peron I get a feeling that they too say the exact same things in slightly different words. How exactly is Devu’s statement different from Sonia’s statement that called Modi “maut ka saudagar” ?

Gopal Godse wrote a book about why Nathuram Godse murdered Gandhiji. Delhi government sought to ban the book by invoking 153(A). Court struck down the ban using several arguments one of which was

the passages must be assessed in the light of what a common reader can reasonably be expected to do upon reading the passages. Obtuse and strange constructions are not to be the guide in these matters,nor the reaction of hypersensitive minds. Furthermore,it holds that in judging the likely consequences of the book,we must go by the depth of contents,the language,and the class of readers who are liable to read it: while noting that Godse’s language is powerful,that he has written the book with a definite purpose,the Court holds that the language is so Sanskritised that the ordinary reader will not be able to find the incendiary material in it which the government is claiming marks the whole book.

Devu is a not entity in Goan politics. He might be spreading rumors that are baseless, which might have a mischievous intent or even malice or he might be mentally disturbed to the extent that he actually believes in what he says but we can hardly say that his writing could have lead to any enmity or violence. His messages are pretty much available on Facebook and we have not seen any violence or the indication of such violence.

Consider the article 295(A) which was originally introduce by British government to protect Islam from criticism.

Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs.—Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 273 [citizens of India], 274 [by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise], insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 4[three years], or with fine, or with both.

I do not think BJP fans can get classified here as a religious group and hence criticism of this group even based on lies can not be used to invoke 295(A).

Shri Atul Pai Kane was well within his right to approach police but as I see it, Devu did not issue any threats to Mr. Kane, neither the group to which Mr. Kane belongs and hence Police should have simply refused to register the complaint. The FIR seems like an over-reacting from police who did not apply their brains in this case.

I am willing to bet my money that the complainant will fall flat on face in the court.

The damage it has done.

I see a lot of people gloating over the trouble that Devu has been subjected to. The court has not pronounced any judgement and people are happy that Devu has been troubled. This is not justice, this is rather a failure of justice. The true test of justice is in the application of arguments, evidence and impartial application of law. It is not in the case where we feel happy because a person we despise for his opinion gets troubled by a system that is too slow to move.

Mr. Kane and the other members of the Facebook group could have easily blocked Devu and spared themselves from facing his idiotic propaganda. People would have forgotten Devu. Now they gave him a martyrdom which he did not deserve. It gave him publicity at national level, it strengthened arguments of people who have been vilifying Narendra Modi and BJP.




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