Celebrities including Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Ratnam and Konkona Sen Sharma, have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their concerns over the growing the cases of lynching in India.
As many as 49 celebrities from different backgrounds have joined forces to address the issue and come out with the letter, dated July 23 and addressed to Prime Minister Modi.
Among the signatories are Shyam Benegal, Riddhi Sen, Ramchandra Guha, Binayak Sen, Soumitra Chatterjee, Revathy, Shubha Mudgal, Anupam Roy amongst others.
“Dear Prime Minister, we as peace loving and proud Indians, are deeply concerned about a number of tragic events that have been happening in recent times in our beloved country,” the letter starts.
“Our constitution describes India as a secular socialist democratic republic where citizens of all religion, ethnicities, gender and castes are equal,” they said.
The letter further read: “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.”
They also pointed out: “254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between January 1, 2009 and October 29, 2018.”
The celebrities expressed regret that not much has been done to tackle the issue.
“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 suck offences should be declared non-bailable, and that exemplary punishment should be meted out swiftly.”
“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. It is shocking that so much violence should be penetrated in the name of religion.”
On raising their voice against an issues in the country, the celebrities noted that they should not be “branded anti-nationals”.
“There is no democracy without dissent. People should not be branded ‘anti-national’ or ‘urban Naxal’ and incarcerated because of dissent against the government.
“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,” it added.
They concluded the letter by saying: “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.”