When I read that an editor in my country has been arrested, on the grounds of having outraged me, all I could feel was shame, and revulsion. For those who claim to believe in a god I can lay claim to, those who have kidnapped the prophets who were my inheritance. For those who buckled, despite having assumed the responsibility of ensuring that my rights were not violated in my own land. For governments and administrations that choose to arrest editors, instead of those who threaten them.
I am ashamed that we live in a country where someone is not allowed to call religion(s) oppressive. I may or may not agree with that view, but I want the right to say it, to agree with it, to put it into print, and to reprint it as many times as I think fit.
I am ashamed that not one newspaper in this country has seen fit to create some noise about this. That not one newspaper is running a campaign against threats to free speech from every upstart, self-appointed guardian angel of some random group's sense of self-esteem. That editors across the country have not seen fit to republish that so-called outrageous article, as a mark of protest.
And I am ashamed that an artist cannot show nudes at Jehangir Art Gallery any more, the place where I spent so much time hanging out, absorbing art, thinking, interpreting, sniggering, criticising. It galls me to spend time in that gallery now. When I sit in Samovar and order a cup of tea, I cannot forget that this is a place that didn't even bother to wait and find out if it would be targeted by the police, or random goons who are afraid of undressed people. It taped up its own face, willingly, before it could be gagged.
I am ashamed that we are so quick to bend into terrorised little kowtows, that we prefer to walk around with someone else's nauseous rags stuffed into our mouths. Really, this doesn't feel like the country I was promised. A democratic, sovereign, socialist republic that guaranteed free speech and free expression of ideas. I thought.