Welcome Abhijit Iyer-Mitra to HMP News! Also Hearty Congratulations on recent judgement of Supreme Court on Rafale deal which validated your stand.
To be start with we may like to know what’s latest update on your health
My gastrointestinal system is having severe problems due to biliary colic. I have had my gall bladder removed as stones were formed there. So being admitted to hospital often. I hadn’t eaten for 40 out of 45 days, so it’s not going to be sorted out too quickly. Will have to endure a bit
How do you reflect on things happened against you in past 2-3 months
I’ve always held India is a Banana republic, and the real weakness is not the law, but human capacity. This is natural in a 3rd world country & I believe I have been vindicated repeatedly on this score. In the UK for example, there was still a law in operation that mandated princess Diana’s execution for high treason for adultery. Issue is, no cop would arrest her or prosecutor prosecute her, or judge even consider arrest leave alone allowing it to come to trial. Why? Does it mean the UK is a Banana republic that doesn’t follow laws? No. It is high human capacity which induces self restraint in people that reduces societal violence and gradually leads to prioritization of rights over duties that differentiates the 1st world from the 3rd world
It was evident that you were victim of political vendetta. May be for defending Rafale or for friendship with Jay Panda. Any comment on this
Several people in BJP helped throughout to get me out. The Rafale defence is conspiracy theory, and in the end the BJD accepted that I was merely an acquaintance of Jay Panda. At any rate I don’t bear Ill will, or rancour against any of them. My malice is reserved for shoddy research & garbage argumentation of the Barkha, Swati Ilk, but even there, I’m more amused given they’re basically sad pathetic jokes well past their prime who don’t seem to get people they consider their friends are laughing at them behind their backs.
What’s your opinion on Supreme Court’s different standards of justice for different people
Let’s just say I’m not interested in going back to jail for some serious contempt of court. But again remember the notion that some institutions are purer or better than others is statistical & anthropological rubbish. The human capacity deficit & severe educational crisis India faces affects ALL institutions equally.
Some ‘Liberal’ Journalists/publications like Barkha Dutt, The Print used opportunity to take dig at you citing your support for civil defamation cases in past. Any comment
When you’re at the end of your career you have to inject yourself into every situation & make everything about yourself. The Print OTOH is a neutral platform & have readily agreed to a rebuttal & asked me to write for them on other aspects of this episode as well
Many liberal journalist like Rohini Singh, Shivam Vij tried to show you are bad ‘martyr’ by showing your past tweets of supporting civilian defamation suits (& convenientally hiding that you were arrested under 295A which no way can be compared with civil defamations)
Yes they did, because they’re superficial shock jocks and don’t understand the deep sociological & anthropological implications. They think society conversations are substitutes for anthropological or sociological rigour. Take Shivam for example, everyone knows he’s gay, but for all his militant activism, he’s petrified to come out for “family reasons”. Simple example, a magazine I love called Areo that published an expose on peer reviewed journals & the quackery they engage in the name of gender and race studies, their Bombay correspondent Ilona is one such. When confronted she called Steve Pinker a rightist bigot & then deleted her tweet & claimed she never said that, because she was essentially attacking solid historical statistics as rightist quackery. Sadly the employment of socially clueless activists & past their prime washouts masquerading as journalists is a very real phenomenon, and in fact symptomatic of global journalism. In India it us particularly bad, as it is compounded by a severe human capacity & education problem
No one was able to defend Rafale more logically than you, still no one from BJP come for your support. Any comment
As for the BJP, Dr Swamy was stellar, and several other leaders, they helped immensely behind the scenes. As did several foreign governments. I didn’t realise how much goodwill I had. It’s unfair to criticise any of them, just because they asked for their help to be kept discrete. Similarly 4 left liberals + 1 institution supported me unconditionally and without caveats & I’m deeply grateful to them. Siddharth Varadarajan, Ram Guha, Rajdeep Sardesai, & Markandey Katju and 1 institution: Amnesty International. This doesn’t mean we don’t have serious differences of opinion & I won’t challenge them in the future, because unlike Barkha i believe support for a position must be based on principle, not on reciprocity. Barkha believes that support is transactional, I don’t. I’ve called Modi Feku several times for what I believe to be wrong economic policies, and I’ve defended the Rafale. I go by research & principles established by the research of others whom I respect.
Your Bio reads: ‘better to die defending ones beliefs than capitulation) Gita 3.35’
How Geeta has played role in your life
It’s just a quote that spoke to me, powerfully. It was alluding to the fact that I still am right wing, & even more trenchantly & militantly so after my incarceration. But just because im an atheist doesnt mean i dont get inspired by powerful quotes from religious books. My atheism comes organically from hinduism, which is why i identify as a hindu & my sources of inspiration are from hindu theology & mythology. Hinduism anyway accepts atheism as a valid path. I’m economic right & socially progressive right, which is to say I have no time for socialism & believe social change must be pushed by people not by governments, but people should fight the good fight & push boundaries, but never get violent or be ambiguous about violence because it reduces the space for social change. Similarly I believe intersectionality to be very very dangerous. Just because I support gay rights doesn’t mean i have to support Palestinian terrorism or Kashmiri stone pelting. I remain an international security moderate & internal security hawk. I have ZERO repeat ZERO tolerance for violence that’s passed of as heroic & fully support the states monopoly on violence.
Umm, in whole interview I avoided asking you anything l related to your experience in jail. Because, if I were in your place, I would not had been courageous to answer this Question at this stage
But may be your well wishers might feel worried to know what’s exactly was happening that you didn’t even ate food for 40 days
No no it’s fine.
The police & authorities treated me well. The issue was sheer boredom. I don’t own or watch TV and the only entertainment was TV which I hate. Also i dont read fiction fir about 20 years now. Tge environment wasnt conduicive to reading serious books & fiction just made me feel like time wastage. I thrive on external stimulus.. smart people & interesting new socio-anthropological & technology books. So it was probably boredom or severe depression
Whether you faced any issue with Jail inmates there?
No … No issues with jail mates. I made friends with lots of serial killers & rapists. I use the term friends loosely ….. don’t want them looking me up after they get out.
Fyi, I was in a single cell . About 10 ft × 10 ft & a 5×3 toilet.Bit the larger cells held about 30-40 persons each. Jail food was too spicy, disguising.
Any special message for all people who stood firmly behind behind you, led by your friend Aarti Tikoo Singh Ma’am?
Yup… I love you guys and I have no words to express my gratitude. There are so many to acknowledge… My former boss Samir Saran, Rupa Subramanya, Anand Ranganathan, Chitra Subramanian, Swarajyamag, Opindia, Nupur Jhunjhunwala, Mohit Gulati and so many others. Thankful to my lawyer Nikhil, my close confidante who kept me sane and went way above and beyond the call of duty (and I think my mother prefers him to me), and to Ruben Banerjee & outlook who persisted several stories: on my condition in jail, why the arrest was wrong , how I was scapegoated and demanding my release.
Thankful to all of those who supported me publicly and those across party and ideological lines who helped me immensely but simply don’t want to be acknowledged. Times like these are when you know who your friends truly are. I measure my happiness and wealth by my friends (Yes, I know it sounds corny, but when you have money, you value things other than money) and I’ve never felt richer, because I never felt this much love, support and concern before.