July 31st, 2017
In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 114 armed forces veterans came out in solidarity to condemn the recent mob violence and lynchings targeting Muslims and Dalits in different parts of the country.
They joined the ‘Not In My Name’ citizens’ movement that had mobilized thousands across India to raise their voices against ‘targeted attacks’ stemmed from hate and discrimination.
In the open letter they say, “Dissent is not treason; in fact, it is the essence of democracy.”
As reported by India Today, the full text can be read here:
“We are a group of Veterans of the Indian Armed Forces who have spent our careers working for the security of our country. Collectively, our group holds no affiliation with any single political party, our only common commitment being to the Constitution of India.
It saddens us to write this letter, but current events in India have compelled us to register our dismay at the divisiveness that is gripping our country. We stand with the ‘Not in My Name’ campaign that mobilised thousands of citizens across the country to protest against the current climate of fear, intimidation, hate and suspicion.
The Armed Forces stand for “Unity in Diversity”. Differences in religion, language, caste, culture or any other marker of belonging have not mattered to the cohesion of the Armed Forces, and servicemen of different backgrounds have fought shoulder to shoulder in the defence of our nation, as they continue to do today. Throughout our service, a sense of openness, justice and fair play guided our actions. We are one family. Our heritage is like the multi-coloured quilt that is India, and we cherish this vibrant diversity.
However, what is happening in our country today strikes at all that the Armed Forces, and indeed our Constitution, stand for. We are witness to unprecedented attacks on society at large by the relentless vigilantism of self-appointed protectors of Hinduism. We condemn the targeting of Muslims and Dalits. We condemn the clampdowns on free speech by attacks on media outlets, civil society groups, universities, journalists and scholars, through a campaign of branding them anti-national and unleashing violence against them while the State looks away.
We can no longer look away. We would be doing a disservice to our country if we do not stand up and speak for the liberal and secular values that our Constitution espouses. Our diversity is our greatest strength. Dissent is not treason; in fact, it is the essence of democracy.
We urge the powers that be at the Centre and in the States to take note of our concerns and urgently act to uphold our Constitution, both in letter and in spirit.”
This is not the first time that Indian Armed Forces has come out and condemned violence in the name of nationalism. After Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur was targeted and trolled on social media, including receiving rape threats, Punjab State Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (SEWA) had offered to help her file charges against the harassers.
The Logical Indian community thanks the Indian Armed Forces for speaking up against hate crimes that have plagued our nation and taken the lives of innocents. It was essential that those spreading violence in the name of nationalism hear from the protectors themselves what it means to be a true patriot.