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The year 2017 has had quite a few déjà vu moments. This is one such moment that carries within it more fear than promise. To déjà vu first. In the early part of the year, the bloggers who were disappeared by the state for being ‘anti-national’, were suddenly slapped with charges of blasphemy. The message thus sent meant that even if they were set free, the society would/should get even with them. Blasphemy was being used by the state as a political tool to silence all dissent.

In April, Mishal Khan, a young university student was brutally murdered by his fellow students on charges of blasphemy. A gifted intelligent boy, Khan was raising voice against the wrong-doings in the university administration. He was duly punished by invoking the mother of all charges that does not wait for a judicial verdict.

The six point agreement — or is it capitulation by one side to the six demands of the other side — that has been made public as a near solution to the days’ long sit-in by one religious group at Faizabad includes this point that the resigning minister would not face a blasphemy charge. Fatwa is the exact word used.

Read also: A complicit state

What preceded and follows the agreement is embarrassing to say the least. The acquiescence of ministers, political parties, military and sections of the media is shameful. The course correction the state is said to have embarked on, the guidelines of the National Action Plan, the resolve to try and hang the killer of Salmaan Taseer have all been exposed with a question on everyone’s mind. Has the state surrendered or is it complicit?

Today, everyone who comes to speak on a public forum has to establish his credentials of being a perfect Muslim first and then make an argument. No one questions the country’s unique distinction of declaring one sect as non-Muslim through the country’s parliament. In today’s Special Report, we have tried to trace the roots of this helplessness in the country’s history, both political and religious. There is a critical gaze at the senseless decision to ban all media, conventional and social, at the time of the operation against the sit-in. The political parties’ stance is also a subject of this report.


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