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Nobody should be arrested basis what they think, says Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo

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Speaking at Democracy Wall, the Biju Janata Dal leader said he strongly opposed criminal defamation.

New Delhi: Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo Friday said he strongly opposed criminal defamation and that nobody should be arrested on the basis of what they think.

Deo’s comments on free speech come in the backdrop of the arrest of Right-leaning defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra over a joke by the BJD-led Odisha government.

Speaking about the right to free speech, he said, “The government has no right to tell us what we should eat, wear or how we should behave in our bedrooms.”

Deo was in conversation with ThePrint’s National and Strategic Affairs Editor Jyoti Malhotra at the twelfth edition of Democracy Wall.

Democracy Wall is a monthly free speech campus initiative organised by ThePrint in collaboration with Facebook. The event at Xavier University Bhubaneswar, Odisha, also featured actor Nandita Das, stand-up comedian Rajneesh Kapoor and rap artist Big Deal.


Also read: From rivals’ hug to social media trolling, Democracy Wall’s Jalandhar edition had it all


Ram Temple

Speaking about the Ram Temple issue in Ayodhya, Deo called the demand baseless and added that if one were to look back at the history of India, even the Aryans would be found to be immigrants.

Deo also encouraged people to look forward and not in the past, adding that a future must be considered for cities instead of renaming them.

Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi pollution

Deo called Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) an interesting experiment which “has now become very mundane like other political parties”.

“It can only be revived if Kejriwal reinvents himself,” said Deo.

However, he added that the issue of pollution in Delhi really bothered him, and wondered why the AAP-led state government and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government are not doing anything about it.

He suggested that pollution in the city could be reduced if all the parties came together and provided Rs 7,000 crore to the farmers of Haryana and Punjab to stop burning crop stubble. He said it worried him that the government has “Rs 10,000 crore to build statues” but nothing to deal with the grave issue of pollution.

Sexual harassment

As the #MeToo movement raged on around the world and in India, the political establishment in the country maintained studious silence. On this, Deo said that politicians are very concerned about their goodwill.

“There are already many people who are waiting for reasons to defame politicians so why would a politician let their reputation to damage,” he said.

Deo, however, added that he was quite surprised that people in the media kept quiet about the issue of sexual harassment for so long.

On BJP, Congress

Both the BJP and the Congress, in their current avatars, are not suitable enough to run the government, said Deo.

“I think BJP has become increasingly autocratic, it doesn’t listen to different voices in India and tries to suppress different voices as they exist today,” he said.


Also read: Freedom of speech that Indians enjoy today never existed earlier: Meenakshi Lekhi


Hockey

Deo expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming Hockey World Cup, scheduled to begin next week. Odisha is set to host the tournament.

“It is commendable that the state government picked up the hockey league, brought it here and is creating a world class infrastructure for hockey all over the state,” he said.

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