First published at hindupost.in
Kamlesh Tiwari, the Hindu Mahasabha leader who was locked up in prison for alleged statements against the Prophet of Islam, was freed on bail in the beginning of October 2016 this month after pending 10 months in prison. The Allahabad High Court quashed the NSA (National Security Act) imposed on him because of which he was not getting bail. We interviewed Kamlesh Tiwari on various issues post his release :
Q: It must be a great feeling to be released from prison and meet your loved ones and supporters. What are your immediate thoughts?
Kamlesh Tiwari: Yes, I feel better. My detention in jail was tolerable till September 1, but after that I was made to suffer unnecessarily for a month. Till September 1, it was a normal practice to open the barracks for ordinary prisoners from morning till evening. This ensured prisoners could walk around, see sunlight and converse inside prison. From September 1, suddenly barracks stopped opening and I was confined to my cell. It turned into a dark solitary confinement all of a sudden and food was also sent into the cell. This kind of treatment is usually given to terrorists and brutal murderers. I objected to it and finally started hunger strike on September 5. For 3 days, I did not eat anything. From September 8, they finally started opening the barracks for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. This continued till I was released on October 1. But My health suffered because of it.
Q: It is surprising that this was done after almost 9 months of imprisonment. Why would they do it all of a sudden?
Kamlesh Tiwari: I don’t know. The case was showing positive signs and may be somebody felt that I could actually get released. May be somebody wanted me to fall sick because of mental torture. You must have read what happened to Ravin Sisodia, the Dadri case accused. Once you fall sick, you are totally on their mercy in terms of physical health. Who checks what kind of medicines one is given in the prison and in the hospital? That would have been a very unfortunate situation. Thankfully, I did not go the Ravin way. Applying NSA for alleged hate speech is anyway not justified.
Q: I understand. Do you think people supported you enough? What do you think about the whole incident, we would like to know your thoughts.
Kamlesh Tiwari: Yes, I feel many people really supported me. The first thing I did after coming out from prison, is check the internet and the news about me in last 1 year. I was overwhelmed by the support, though the protest rallies asking death penalty for me were also widespread, but they were effectively countered by supporters. I am very thankful to my lawyer, the court judges and all Hindutvawadis who stood by what is called freedom of speech these days. I had never expected any organization to support me, I never wanted them to do anything for me personally. My case was my own fight, but it was disheartening that Azam Khan got away lightly after making such derogatory remarks on RSS as an organization. Neither RSS, nor the national media took him to task.
Q: I get your point. What about your security now?
Kamlesh Tiwari: The UP government has finally provided me 4 policemen of different ranks. One even has a gun (laughs). Center hasn’t done much on my security.
Q: What are your thoughts for the future? I mean, you can’t do much because of security issues, isn’t it? Any immediate future plans, for next couple of months?
Kamlesh Tiwari: Well, I don’t wish to live like Taslima Nasreen or Salman Rushdie in exile. I breathe Hindutva. I had a program on 13th of October in Udaipur, but I was not allowed to reach the venue. They stopped me in Chittorgarh, I was told that my speech could lead to communal tension. You won’t believe how many people waited till late night for me to arrive. But unfortunately, I was stopped and could not reach the venue. On 5th November, we have a meeting of National Working Committee of Hindu Mahasabha. In that meeting, we shall decide the date of commencement of ‘Hindu Swabhimaan Yatra’ that will go through all districts of UP. This is the near future plan, to take out a ‘Hindu Swabhiman Yatra’ in UP.
Q: What if the government doesn’t give you permission for it? And are you not scared to reach out in public like this? What is the opinion of your wife and family on the issue of security?
Kamlesh Tiwari: The government cannot stop Hindu Mahasabha’s yatra beyond a point. We are a registered political party. I am not too scared. I am not going to do yatra alone, there will be many people together in the yatra. Regarding the opinion of my family, I am blessed to have a wife like Kiran who supports this cause and has always stood by me in thick and thin. She understands this cause.
Q: Coming to Hindu Mahasabha, news had come sometime back that Kamlesh Tiwari doesn’t belong to Hindu Mahasabha anymore. And is Delhi HMS office, which is the seat of Swami Chakrapani, a faction or vice-versa?
Kamlesh Tiwari: The unflinching Hindutva supporters within and outside Hindu Mahasabha know the truth well. You should check the statements and actions of Swami Chakrapani and his group on Kairana exodus of Hindus. Anyway, High Court judgment in 2012 clearly announced that Swami Chakrapani is not the president of Hindu Mahasabha. In 2013, I was chosen as working president in working committee meeting. The proximity of Swami Chakrapani to Congress is known. The problem is media, they call him and his group on debates and quote their statements in news articles. Because of that, we and entire Hindu Mahasabha get the blame. Media mischief causes more confusion.
Q: Moving on to UP elections, tell us what you think and what are the plans of Hindu Mahasabha.
Kamlesh Tiwari: There are no concrete plans as of now, still work-in-progress. The bottom-line is, we don’t want to divide Hindu votes but we also don’t want to compromise on Hindu welfare and core issues. So, we are not totally averse to tie-ups but not at the cost of Hindu interest. But I think we will fight assembly elections on some seats at least, where we have hopes to deliver. If BJP safeguards Hindu interests, it can win many mores seats in UP. In fact, because I don’t speak against Narendra Modi, many staunch Hindutvawadis call me a BJP & Sangh agent! Funny situations happen sometimes.
Q: Interesting inputs from you. What is your opinion about this whole ‘freedom of speech’ debate raging in the country, and role of secularism in it, like the incidents happening at JNU?
Kamlesh Tiwari: The education in our country has already been destroyed by Macaulay. This JNU was built by Indira Gandhi for ‘secularwadis’, to raise a crop of faithfuls and leftists. What is secularism? It is called ‘dharm nirpekshta’ in hindi. What is its meaning? It just confuses everybody. Does it tell people to become ‘naastik’ (atheist) and ‘adharmi’ (anti-Dharma)? It is not about freedom of speech, it is about ‘nyay’ and ‘anyay’ (justice and injustice). People should have freedom of speech but it doesn’t mean they should become ‘adharmi’.
Q: Does that mean we should do away with hate speech laws like 295A and 153?
Kamlesh Tiwari: What defines hate speech or hate actions, what if it is speaking the truth? MF Hussain painted Hindu goddesses nude, he never spent time in jail. People organize beef parties, how many go to jail? Some people call Maa Durga a prostitute and abuse Bhagwan Rama – did they go to jail? This question of freedom of speech won’t exist if this becomes a Muslim nation. Then it will be unquestionably Sharia law. That NSA was applied on me for hate speech was injustice. I don’t have a definite answer for this. Is asking for a ‘Dharmic Hindu Rashtra’ hate speech? Patriotism cannot be separated from Hindutva. Laws have to revolve around this.
Q: Thank you for speaking to us. We hope you stay safe.
Kamlesh Tiwari: Thank you so much.
21 Oct 2016
One of the questions asked of Kamlesh Tiwari was missed out in the original interview published on 19 Oct. We apologize for the inadvertent error, and are reproducing the same below-
Q – Why do you think sections of Hindus continue to vote for political parties who seem to sabotage Hindu interests, like Samajwadi Party etc?