Words and ideas may outlast authority: Tharoor on arrest of activists

'When I was in school, I learnt that the pen is mightier than the sword... I am no longer convinced it is'

Shashi Tharoor
Tharoor is Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram and former MoS for external affairs | File Photo: PTI

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Saturday (October 17) came out in support of the activists arrested in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence, while asserting that words and ideas may outlast power and authority.

Speaking at the Symbiosis International University Literary Festival via video-conferencing, Tharoor said a large number of people, including activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj and Anand Teltumbde, are under detention for their words, although none of them is accused of hitting anyone or possessing a gun.

“When I was in school, I learnt that the pen is mightier than the sword. Today, I have seen our country, its politics and its discourse. I am no longer convinced it is,” said the Congress leader who has also authored several books.


“I am sorry to say, but words and ideas may outlast power and authority. Power and authority in the short term can crush the words,” added the Thiruvananthapuram MP.

Related news: Strong grounds for bail in your case, SC tells Bhima Koregaon activist Sudha

“We have seen that a large number of people are under detention for words they have expressed. Currently, people like Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Anand Teltumbde are under detention for their words.

“No one is accused of throwing a stone, hitting someone or possessing a gun or anything like that. It’s only about the words. So, how will the pen stand up to the sword if the pen is wielded to the authority of the government of the day,” he said.

Rao, Gonsalves, Bharadwaj, Teltumbde and some other activists have been arrested for their alleged Maoist links and for their alleged involvement in inciting a mob to violence in Koregaon Bhima near Pune on January 1, 2018.

Violence had erupted in Bhima Koregaon allegedly after provocative speeches were made during the Elgar Parishad conclave held a day earlier at Shaniwarwada in Pune city.

Related news: NIA summons scholars, journalist in Bhima Koregaon case

Even earlier, Tharoor had backed the detained activists saying that the arrest of activists “who have neither committed nor facilitated violence is to betray our democracy.” “This is not the India that Gandhiji fought to free,” he had said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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