IAS Kannan Gopinathan’s call for taped mouth protest spreads, students follow suit

Responding to Kannan Gopinathan’s call the participants taped their mouths and stood for an hour to show their solidarity with the people

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On October 19, when the lockdown on Kashmir entered its 75th day, KannanGopinathan, the IAS officer who quit the civil service to protest the clampdown and communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir, initiated a taped-mouth protest campaign in a tweet, urging people to support him, The Telegraph reported.

He wanted to also convey a home truth, “If we are to be mute spectators to all this, let’s be that in a proper way.”

Kannan had earlier said that he hadn’t resigned because of the abrogation of Article 370, but because of what the government did to the people of J&K after that. “We just shut them up, and simply told them you don’t have a voice; you can’t express whether you’re angry or happy, whether you are upset or in anguish,” KannnanGopinathan told a crowd at Lamakaan.

The engineer-turned-bureaucrat embarked on a country-wide tour imparting lectures, holding candle-light vigils and initiating dialogues in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Lucknow among other places.

Responding to Gopinathan’s call, a meeting was organized at the Sacred Heart College, Thevara in Kochi. The meeting was attended by students, teachers and also the general public to openly denounce the communication blackout imposed on Kashmir.

Kannan, who has had his share of name calling after his move, has said that dissent is essential to democracy and while the government has the right to take decisions, the people have the right to protest them.

Branded an ‘anti-national’ by the right-wing radicalists, he said that true ‘national integrity’ would only take place if people from other states stood up to oppose the suppression of the Kashmiris.


Gopinathan had also come down heavily on the use of VVPAT machines by the government. Opposing the Centre’s claim that machines actually made the election more transparent, Gopinathan said that instead they have actually made election rigging easier. As a District Magistrate earlier, Gopinathan has had first-hand experience of handling EVMs and VVPATs and knows fully well how the machines function.

He pointed out how VVPAT machines disconnected the Ballot Unit (on which a voter casts his/her vote) of the electronic voting machine from the Control Unit (in which votes are stored in electronic form).

Explaining why he was raising the issue at this stage, after his resignation, he put out an explainer on Twitter.

He said that a VVPAT can possibly be programmed in a way that it sends different signals to the printing unit and to the Control Unit. In other words, suppose a person votes for Candidate ‘A’. The rigged VVPAT will print the paper slip for Candidate ‘A’ only to the satisfaction of the voter, but it would send a different vote to the CU, say for Candidate ‘B’.

The malfunctioning of these EVMs, in Satara, was also reported by Mumbai Mirror, where the Election Commission (EC) accepted allegations that no matter which button the voter pressed, the votes went to the ruling BJP. This news left the EC red-faced with regards to their claim that EVMs were foolproof and could not be rigged.

Gopinathan has also staunchly opposed the NRC in his personal capacity. Connecting the issues of stripping off Kashmir’s constitutional provisions and the NRC at the event at Lamakaan in Hyderabad, he had said, “”Firstly, we are stripping off citizenship on one side, and not considering an entire state of people as citizens on the other hand. That is dangerous to the country.”

Kannan had said that while he wanted to exercise his freedom of expression, it was not possible for him to do so while he was in service.

Mentioning that dissent was all-important to him he said that it didn’t matter whether people’s perceptions or convictions were right or wrong, he stressed that everyone must have the right to be vocal about them.

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