Free speech debate turns political slugfest at JLF

Jaipur, Jan 25 (IANS) A debate on the limits on the freedom of speech at the Jaipur Literature Festival on Monday turned into a political slug match between supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in front of a mammoth politically divided crowd.

Shrugging off reports on intolerance as selective outrage, actor Anupam Kher, who maintained freedom of speech comes with a sense of responsibility, clashed with Delhi Culture Minister Kapil Mishra.

Targeting Kejriwal, Kher said it was only in India where one could call the prime minister a psychopath and get away with it.

Mishra retorted there was a small group of the same people that was targeting expressions of free speech but people were free to call his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders whatever they wanted to – and did.

The AAP would not be deterred from using the names they have for Modi or Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, Mishra added.

He also maintained that the people would not let the India of 2016 be run on the lines of 1992, 1984 and 2002, referring to the years of the Babri Masjid demolition, the anti-Sikh riots and the Gujarat riots.

Other panellists included journalist Madhu Trehan, journalist and writer Salil Tripathi, Dalit activist P. Sivakami and commentator Suhel Seth.

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