'Call For Sanity': Celebrities Write To PM Demanding Immediate Action On Increasing Hate-Crimes In The Country
Around 49 members of the Bollywood fraternity and some from other professions wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi on July 24, drawing his attention towards growing intolerance in the country under the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Signatories to the letter include filmmakers Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Aparna Sen, Mani Ratnam, Shyam Benegal, Ketan Mehta, Gautam Ghose; actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Revathy Asha; author Amit Chaudhuri; historians and academics, Ashis Nandy, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Partha Chatterjee, Ramchandra Guha; and singer Shubha Mudgal.
In the letter dated to 23rd July 2019, the group of artists stated that they are ‘deeply concerned’ about a number of tragic events that have been happening in the country in recent times.
Explaining their take on the alarming issue, the letter claims that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped with immediate effect. The signatories also mentioned their shock at 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016 and the drastic decline in the percentage of convictions.
The letter, quoting NCRB data, reads, “254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between October 29, 2018, and January 1, 2009, where 91 people were killed and 579 injured.”
Aparna Sen, one of the signatories to open letter to PM Modi: We're anxious about the state our country is in today. All over India people are being lynched, why people of different faiths are being forced to say 'Jai Shri Ram'. pic.twitter.com/Fd2X3wyHjk
— ANI (@ANI) July 24, 2019
“What action has been actually been taken against the perpetrators? We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non-bailable, and that exemplary punishment should be meted out swiftly and surely,” the letter read.
The group also highlighted the recent spree of controversies over the chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’, which has become a provocative ‘war-cry’ and has lead to many law and order problems in the country.
"Why are people of different faiths forced to speak Jai Shri Ram?"filmmaker Aparna Sen on the letter by eminent personalities to PM pic.twitter.com/jFjYwaPjWT
— NDTV (@ndtv) July 24, 2019
“Criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising the nation. Indians are genuinely concerned with and anxious about, the fate of our nation,” they wrote.
Claiming that there is no democracy without dissent, the celebrities wrote, “no individuals should be branded as ‘anti-national’ or ‘Urban Naxal’ because of the dissent against the government.”
Responding to the letter, one of the undersigned Director said that the letter has been written because they love the secular fabric of the nation and it is a call for sanity.
Several BJP leaders strongly turned down the claims of “rising incidents of mob lynching” calling them preposterous and a deliberate attempt to undermine the good work of the Narendra Modi government.
Subramanian Swamy, BJP Leader outrightly rejected the charges of intolerance and alleged that “raising the issue of intolerance had become fashionable and was being done repeatedly to get international attention.”
He also added that there is a sinister intention behind the letter and if he was the Prime Minister, he would have thrown the letter in the dustbin without reading it.
Union Minister Giriraj Singh criticised the letter and said that the ‘award wapsi‘ gang has become active again to destabilise the Narendra Modi government
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh also reacted to the letter. “These intellectuals who have written a letter to the prime minister are anti-nationals. They are actually acting as stooges of Opposition parties who are trying to malign the BJP government,” he said.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee came out in support of the letter and said, “everyone in this country knows what is going on and whatever has been written is genuine by the people.”