As many as 49 eminent personalities including actors and filmmakers wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concerns over the rising incidents of lynching and the provocative use of “Jai Shri Ram” leading to law and order problems in the country.
The 49 celebrities, who have signed the letter include Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Konkona Sen Sharma, Soumita Chatterjee, among others.
Speaking on lynching incidents, the letter called for the immediate stoppage of lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities.
“… 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.
It further said 254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between January 2009 and October 2018, in which “at least 91 persons were killed”.
The letter also alleged that 90 per cent of the attacks were reported after May 2014, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power.
The celebrities also mentioned that PM Modi had criticised the lynchings in the Parliament adding that it was simply “not enough”.
“You have criticised such lynchings in Parliament Mr Prime Minister, but that is not enough! What action has 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…,” the letter further read.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in June condemned the lynching of a Muslim man by a mob in Jharkhand and had termed it as “painful”
Tabrez Ansari, 22, died in a hospital days after he was brutally thrashed by a mob at Dhatkidih village in Seraikela district on suspicion of stealing a bike.
Further on, the letter stated that the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan has become a provocative “war cry” today.
“…. It is shocking that so much violence should be perpetrated in the name of religion! These are not the Middle Ages! The name of Ram is sacred to many in the majority community of India. As the highest Executive of this country, you must put a stop to the name of Ram being defiled in this manner,” the letter said.
“Criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising 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 celebrities further said.
Historian Ramchandra Guha, doctor and social activist Binayak Sen, scholar and sociologist Ashis Nandy are also among those who have signed the letter.