Bol Ke Labb Aazad Hein Tere – Speak for You Must, You are Free to Speak

9 Pages Posted: 4 May 2015

Date Written: May 2, 2015


When Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a revolutionary Urdu poet wrote these lines "Bol ke labb aazad hein tere…" he must have visualized of a free world where every soul is liberated and free to speak her own mind. Similarly, Rabindranath Tagore, the Noble Laureate from Bengal, in his famous work titled, 'Where The Mind is Without Fear' composed imagined a world where mind and soul are independent, think freely, are fearless and liberated from any form of oppression. Emancipation of mind and soul holds utmost significance in these verses and more importantly, these words elicit courageousness and inspire to speak out boldly. However, in the contemporary world, these words are continuously losing their meaning especially in a region like South Asia, which gained independence from colonial rule decades back, yet it remains enchained by its own conservative, patriarchal, narrow and constricted mindset. Repressive regime continued and imposed restrictions in different forms in the free nations. Bans are being imposed and freedom is being curtailed while threatening the very democratic essence and the spirit of diversity laid by the leaders during the freedom struggle within the territory. Although, freedom of speech and expression is a right recognized by the constitutions, yet it is constrained using all forms of limitations like the absence of net neutrality, bans, threats, murders and killing of people who speak in diverse dissenting voices. Dissents are being criminalized and different voices are silenced by the ruling elite using the weapons of censorship, prohibition, erasure, sedition and above all by controlling the mind and bodies of those who are already on margins. However, the persistent battle is being fought by those who are oppressed and subjugated and are striving for 'Yes we can' against those who impose 'Thou Shall we Ban’. This piece looks at this process of imposing restrictions by the dominant elite, the dissent by the subalterns and the marginalized to assert their right to speak and express themselves using different modes, means, languages or expressions and consequently the encounter between the 'oppressor and oppressed' or the 'powerful and powerless'.

Keywords: freedom of speech, freedom of expression, dissent, silence, censorship, defiance, speak out, ban, democracy,

Suggested Citation

Nigam, Shalu, Bol Ke Labb Aazad Hein Tere – Speak for You Must, You are Free to Speak (May 2, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Shalu Nigam (Contact Author)

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