Jhumri Telaiya: 28 yrs old Ramesh Kumar (Name changed for safety) who has spent 6 months in prison after being booked under blasphemy laws has been asked to get rich and famous quickly if he wants the right to free speech. Entire country has come together as one and asked him to forget about having any right to free speech till he gets rich.
Ramesh was arrested 6 months back under section 295A when he insulted the followers of the faith of the seven by claiming that the Lord of the light is the one true God (Names of religion changed for security). Case was immediately registered against him and police force of the entire district launched an operation to capture him. After reading about free speech debate in newspapers recently, he asked for his right to free speech but has been told firmly that this right is for the rich and the famous.
“He wants to know why doesn’t he enjoy any right to free speech and why are people not coming out to support him. Typical lower middle class people, they read about rich people in newspapers and then feel jealous. Bhai how can you have any rights when you are neither rich nor famous? This is why I asked jailer sir to avoid giving access to newspapers to prisoners. They get bad ideas”, said Shanta Ram, a guard at the prison hosting Ramesh.
A leading constitutional expert Surekha Banerjee spoke to us to explain the problem. She said, “See the problem with middle class people is that they assume free speech is free. Unless you provide some benefit to us, either through money or connections or some improvement in our social standing, why will we support you? No free lunches my dear, get rich and famous and I myself will fight for you in Supreme Court. After all, We are committed to upholding the right to free speech.”
When we asked how he can become rich now since he is already in prison, Surekha ji replied, “These are just excuses. People are running huge underworld empires while sitting in Indian jails and this guy can’t even make some money?”