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Democratic snooping for the 'country'

Democratic snooping for the country

So far the approach of our governments has been to trust the populace of the country and treat them basically as patriots. But now the 'country' has started having suspicions about them – as if the entire citizenry is a pack of black money dealers or those indulging in subversive activities; and as if the integrity of the country is so complex that their private conduct has to be constantly under surveillance.

Till now, all the citizens have been by constitution free and innocent unless proven guilty. No government agency had the right to encroach on the life of the citizen by force. And only by misusing the conditional powers given to them could those in authority and government investigative agencies peep into the privacy of the people and steal information.

But no more: now on, the government and their agencies can without proof or cover tread into the privacy of the citizens, capture information, and arrest and imprison those who refuse to share them. For, through the extra-ordinary gazette issued by Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba last Thursday night, every citizen is on the side of the accused, and bound to prove at any time before ten government agencies that their private transactions do not have anything detrimental to national interest.

The Central Government contention is that the power to snoop on any computer and smart phone is to ensure national security. They also explain that the new order is only in pursuance of the IT Act amendment introduced by UPA government in 2009. The order widely perceived as anti-constitutional, has come when the Lok Sabha is in session. Still it begs the question for whose 'national security' the government issued the order that authorises installing virtual hidden cameras to see into the privacy of people, without holding a formal debate in the parliament, or at least discussing it at the cabinet level. The 'country' has now become synonymous with the 'government'. And what is going to rule the roost will be the hunting of democracy by the supremacy of the majority in which criticisms against government wil be judged as treason.

One also starts being anxious whether in current times the courts or the various political leaderships have any stamina left to question the civil rights violations going on in the name of the country. It is in less than a year since the highest court declared privacy as a fundamental right of the citizen that an order has been issued saying that citizens shall not have any secret to hide before the 'country'. But then who is actually hiding information and serving the corporates? The contracts in Rafale arms deal, the economic frauds committed by banks after demonetization, the credibility of the funds that came to the Reserve Bank, information about the tax concessions granted to the corporates, data about kingpins of black money, enquirires about the people killed in fake encounters, reprsentation of Dalits and minorities in military and investigative agencies, and even definite information about prime minister's educational qualification - so goes the long list of items of information which the government has been withholding on the plea that their disclosure would be against national interest. It is a government that misled even the Supreme Court on grounds of national security that is now snatching the fundamental rights of the citizens under the same pretext.

As was stated by Shantanu Sen, former Joint Director CBI, official agencies are going to find it very easy to look into any confidential information. The earlier requirement to approach the government on each case is not there any more. Those who conspired to make this order are aiming at maintaining power in their own hands, and even if it is lost, to retain a deep state through control and influence over the bureaucracy. In this new dispensation, loyalty to the nation is the name given to unstinted support to the government by those who wish to see supremacy of the majority. Then security means being subservient to the group interests of the establishment. Freedom is only the name for recording soft voices of dissent rooted in convictions about the espionage network of the government. Peace is another name for silence that instils fear within oneself. With a single order, the government has been able to enforce all this. Still we believe that there is no emergency in the country, and that ours is a country with infinite right to write and talk freely and criticise government and those in it!

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