Forty-nine eminent personalities including filmmaker and director Aparna Sen and historian Ramchandra Guha, Anurag Kashyap, social activist Anuradha Kapoor, social worker Aditi Basu and author Amit Chaudhury have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, drawing his attention to “a number of tragic events” recently, including incidents of lynching, and the alleged weaponisation of the slogan “Jai Shri Ram” into a “War Cry”.
“Dear Prime Minister… The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. We were shocked to learn from the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) reports that there have been no less than 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions,” said the letter also signed by actor Aparna Sen and historian Ramchandra Guha, among others.
The letter adds: “Regrettably “Jai Shri Ram” has become a provocative “war cry” today that leads to law and order problems, and many lynchings take place in its name…..Ram is sacred for the majority community, stop defiling the name of Ram.”
“You have criticized such lynching in parliament Mr. Prime Minister, but that is not enough… We strongly feel that such offenses should be declared non-bailable…” the letter further says.
“People should be branded as ‘anti-nationals’ or ‘Urban-Naxals’ and incarcerated because of dissents with the government.
Criticizing the ruling party does not imply criticizing the nation. No ruling party is synonymous with the country where it is in power. It is only one of the political parties of that country. Hence anti-government stands cannot be equated with anti-national sentiments. An open environment where dissent is not crushed only makes for a stronger nation the letter said.
“We hope our suggestions will be taken in the spirit that they are meant – as Indians genuinely concerned with, and anxious about, the fate of our nation,” it said.