Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Saturday said a large number of people, including activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj and Anand Teltumbde, are under detention for their words, although none of them is accused of hitting anyone or possessing a gun.
He also said that words and ideas may outlast power and authority.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP and author of several books was speaking at the Symbiosis International University Literary Festival via video-conferencing.
“When I was in school, I learnt that the pen is mightier than the sword. Today, I have seen our country, its politics and its discourse. I am no longer convinced it is,” he said.
“I am sorry to say, but words and ideas may outlast power and authority. Power and authority in the short term can crush the words,” the Congress leader said.
“We have seen that a large number of people are under detention for words they have expressed. Currently, people like Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Anand Teltumbde are under detention for their words. No one is accused of throwing a stone, hitting someone or possessing a gun or anything like that. It’s only about the words. So, how will the pen stand up to the sword if the pen is wielded to the authority of the government of the day,” he said.
Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde and some other activists have been arrested for their alleged Maoist links and for their alleged involvement in inciting a mob to violence in Koregaon Bhima near Pune on January 1, 2018.
Violence had erupted in Koregaon Bhima allegedly after provocative speeches were made during the Elgar Parishad conclave held a day earlier at Shaniwarwada in Pune city.