Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, the accidental champion of freedom of speech, has a history of suppressing the speech, sometimes violently, of people with whom he disagrees.
Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, president of a year-old, obscure organization called Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena (BSKS), which claims 10,000 members, burst into the national limelight last year for assaulting prominent lawyer and social activist Prashant Bhushan for statements he made on Kashmir. Bagga, 29, proved instrumental in exposing the sex video of Congress spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi, which he posted on Twitvid, after a Delhi court barred an Indian media group from broadcasting it and Youtube and Facebook took them down from their sites.
Little India talked to the accidental champion of freedom of speech, who has a history of suppressing the speech, sometimes violently, of people with whom he disagrees. Indeed the BSKS blog exhorts “hell to that freedom of speech” of people it perceives as anti-nationalist, Kashmir-separatist sympathizers, hostile to the Indian army, etc., warning, “I will throw all this type of freedom of speech in a loo and flush them."
Why did you think it was important to share the Abhishek Manu Singhvi video publicly?
This is not only a sex video, this is not personal life. This is a case of corruption, this is a case of misuse of power. They are electing the judiciary of the high court this way and it harms our nation. They are misusing their power.
Why do you feel that the video involving two people possibly having sex has anything to do with corruption in the judiciary?
If you listen to the video with headphones you will hear the voice where the woman (in the video) is asking “judge kab bana rahe ho” (When will you make (me) a judge?) and he is saying “I recommend your name for judiciary.” And her name went to the committee. Her name was sent to the chief justice for high court judge. He did not agree to her name and she did not become a judge, but Singhvi committed that I will send her name.
But that was in 2010?
This is a CD. We don’t know the timing of the CD. Maybe it is older than the recommendation. We don’t know when the driver shot the video. It only just came out, but we don’t know when it was shot.
Do you have any sense of how long ago, how many months or years ago, when this incident occurred?
No. Just 15-20 days ago Singhvi said that the video was recorded and sent to some media channels via his driver and he filed a case in the Delhi High Court to stop the telecast and the court banned Indian media from telecasting.
Are you concerned about the legal consequences of broadcasting the video that a court has banned?
No one can stop us from talking about corruption. This is not a case about sex. This is a case of misuse of power. People in government, in power, are misusing their power and electing judiciary this way. This is not his personal life. This is about our nation, so how can they stop us? If Singhvi thinks I am in contempt of court he can file a case. But don’t tell us to stop talking about corruption and misuse of power. We are not afraid. We are ready to face the consequences, to fight, but we can’t stop speaking about these things. All videos that were uploaded on Youtube were deleted after one or two hours on government orders. But there are hundreds of antinational websites, there are hate India videos on Youtube for years and years, but the government is not interested in removing them. But if it involves any minister or member of parliament, then it is more important for the government than the nation. Why does the government have no objection, take no action against those videos?
What is your opinion of the Indian media’s decision to not broadcast the videos?
I think after the high court order, media could not telecast. If the high court order was not there, the media would have telecast. They have earlier telecast Narayan Dutt Tewari’s sex video and other incidents also. There is a court order, so we can’t blame the media in this case. Sometimes media may be wrong, but in this case they were barred by a court order.
But they had the video before the court order, but did not publish it.
Maybe they should have. I don’t know why they did not or how long they had the video before the high court order. But if they had the video they should have telecast it on the same day.
How did you gain access to the video?
Someone with Twitter ID AMSClip uploaded the video on April 19 night on Youtube. They sent me a link in my inbox that I have uploaded this video and to check it.
I guessed it would be deleted in half an hour or hour. When (Minister of Communications and Information Technology) Kapil Sibal had raised the issue of internet censorship, the government had tied up with some social networking sites. So I downloaded it immediately and after half an hour I uploaded it on Twitvid, because I knew they had no tie-up with Twitvid.
Was there pressure applied on you not to put it up or to take it down?
Singhvi’s son Avishkar Singhvi contacted me and said our family is very hurt by all this and requested me to delete it. Then he used a little threatening language also, saying we believe in trying to solve everything peacefully. We said clearly we will not delete the video. This is not a case of personal life. If your family is hurt we apologize to your family. But this is hurting our nation.
He said, “Hum to shanti se baat karne mein vishwas karte hain” (We believe in resolving things peacefully). If I go to someone and appeal to you to do something and agar aap nahin karteyan and hum khayatyen hai ki ham shanti sai kar rahe hai baatyen, magar (if you don’t agree and you say we believe in resolving things peacefully, but), this is threatening language. We said we would file a case against his son. But after Singhvi submitted his resignation, after an hour his son called and said we want to end the issue, that what you wanted has happened, so we decided not to file the case.
Singhvi claims the video was doctored. Have you evaluated…
If the video is doctored then he should go to court and demand a forensic test. Again and again his son said it is his personal issue. (Minister of Law and Justice) Salman Khurshid and the government said it is a personal issue. Every Congress Minister said it is a personal issue. This is the same Singhvi who 15-20 days earlier, when BJP MLAs were accused of watching pornography in the Vidhan Sabha in the Karnataka Assembly, he was saying this is the true face of BJP. I am not defending the BJP MLAs; they should be punished. But this is the same person who was criticizing them.
As far as you are concerned, this video would not be of consequence if there was no conversation in it on judicial appointments.
This occurred in a chamber of the Supreme Court. This is an insult of the Supreme Court. This is contempt of court if you are doing this type of activity in the chamber of the Supreme Court. If someone is doing this in their bedroom, whatever they are doing, yes, then it is another issue. Here they are appointing judges and then in Supreme Court they are doing this sort of act.
I have seen Twitter exchanges from you on other videos of Singhvi and others.
The person who uploaded the video, in his tweet before the resignation of Singhvi, said that if within 48 hours Congress did not take action against Singhvi he would post more videos and within 36 hours Singhvi resigned. Last night he tweeted that he also has videos of (Home Minister P) Chidambaram and he is in talks with Congress and if Chidambaram does not resign within 72 hours he will release those videos.
Do you know who AMSClip, the man who first uploaded the video on Youtube, is?
I don’t know who AMS is. I just know him through the Twitter exchanges.
A lot of people admire you for standing up for freedom of expression. But in the past you have sought to censor websites, such as shariah4hind.com, and disrupted movie screenings of Jashn-e-Azadi at Delhi University. Isn’t it contradictory that you are suppressing people with whose views you disagree.
We are in support of freedom of expression. That website advocates shariah law, was planning a rally where they were going to throw the Indian flag from parliament and haul their flag. They said they will break all the temples and idols in India. In India everyone has the right to worship in their own way, so they are against freedom of expression.
But they just happen to have a point of view with which you disagree.
Hurting the people in this way, that we will break your temples and idols, we will ban the holy books, they are hurting the religious sentiments of people, they are insulting the nation.
What about the movie Jashn-e-Azadi you disrupted.
This was a pro Kashmir freedom movie. It is against the Indian army. How can we allow propaganda of dividing the nation? Freedom of expression is allowed in the constitution, but it also has laws against sedition. This is sedition.
If something is not permitted just because someone disagrees with it, there can be no freedom. We must tolerate views we differ with …
Everyone has the right to express his views, but it cannot go against the state. If it goes against the nation we will never accept it. You can put up your point. We will go to solve the problem, but if you say divide the nation, we will not agree with that.
You can argue with people, you can express your contrary point of view.
If you speak the language of Pakistan? They support those who throw stones at the Indian army. How can we talk with them?
It is one thing that you are asking courts to shut down websites that you think are against the law. But you have physically attacked people like Prashant Bhushan and Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani
In the Prashant Bhushan case we tried so many times to solve the issue peacefully. He gave statements that the Indian army is responsible for the death of 118 civilians in Kashmir. He gave a clean chit to Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba and said he was going to file an appeal against the Indian army. When terrorists attacked in Mumbai, he gave statements that he is against capital punishment and (terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir) Kasab should not get capital punishment. He gave such statements 4-5 times. We sent messages through Team Anna, but when things were not solved peacefully in six months and every month he made these type of statement, we went to Prashant Bhushan and he said aap kya kar loge mera main to aise hi boloonga (What can you do to me; I will keep saying this), then this thing happened. Bit six months we tried peacefully.
But he happens to disagree with you. Why should he change his views to satisfy you?
You can express views, but not if the views are against the nation. They do not support peaceful means. They support people who are talking with guns, they support the Maoists and Naxals. They like people who speak with violence, so they have no right to question what we have done with him.
Don’t you think a civic society is impossible if every time you disagree with someone you beat them up?
From 15-16 years of age I have been in social life. In last seven years we have done hundreds of protests, only one or two times has there been physical confrontation…. If the police and the government do not take action, if the law will not punish, then these things will happen.
Photos Courtesy: Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena