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Hate speech can never be free speech: Jaitley on JNU row in Rajya Sabha

The debate in Rajya Sabha on Hyderabad student Rohith Vemula’s suicide and the JNU controversy centered around nationalism as the treasury and opposition benches hit out at each other. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Parliament Attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging was described as a “judicial killing” by the organisers of the JNU event on February 9, and that was indefensible.

Rajya Sabha-AVIntervening in the debate, Finance Minister Jaitley accused the opposition of giving respectability to those who “talk of breaking up India.” “Neither the NDA or BJP professes only one ideology should prevail in this country,” he said.

“Vandalism is condemnable but sedition is free speech? Vandalism is terrible but in the name of academic freedom how can hate speech become freedom of expression. How can hate speech become freedom of expression?” he said in Rajya Sabha while speaking in Parliament’s debate over unrest in Hyderabad University, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and other institutions.

Jaitley was commenting on sedition cases being filed against JNU students for alleged anti-national slogans and lawyers attacking them in Delhi court.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha said “On the issue of secularism and nationalism, you (BJP) stay in a glass palace.  We stay in a safe stone house…if we throw even one stone, the whole glass palace will fall.”

Earlier, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who began the debate and accused the Modi government of “partisan intervention” in the Jawaharlal Nehru University or JNU row.

Imitating the debate on Thursday, Left leader Sitaram Yechury accused the government of charging students with sedition because it couldn’t tolerate dissent and wanted to enforce its ideology on everybody.

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