49 leading intellectuals write an open letter to ‘Dear PM’ seeking end to lynching and other crimes

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An open letter addressed to PM

Kolkata, 24 July : Expressing ‘deep concern at a number of tragic events that have been happening  in recent times’, altogether 49 well known writers, filmmakers, academics, physicians and other intellectuals of the country have sought immediate intervention of Prime minister Narendra Modi and stern action against the perpetrators of such  heinous crimes like lynching and other gruesome offences against the dalits and other minority community of the country.

In a first such ‘open letter’ to the Prime minister today since he assumed office last month for the second five year term, these renowned citizens in their respective fields referred to the Indian constitution where the country has been described as a ‘secular, socialist, democratic republic where the citizens of all religions, ethnicities, gender and caste are equal’ ,and citied a number of examples of the unfortunate incidents of  ‘lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities’ and demanded that such incidents must be stopped forthwith with stern action. 

Quoting from the recent reports of the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) they said ‘ there have been no less than 840 instances of atrocities against the Dalits in 2016 itself with the percentage of their convictions declining definitely. 

Moreover, they said, 254 religious identity based hate crimes were reported between 1 January 2009 and 29 October 2018 when at least 91 people were killed and 579 others injured. Among the victims 62 per cent were from the Muslim community and 14 per cent from the Christian community. 

About 90 per cent of these(254) attacks took place after May 2014.

These intellectuals further stated in their open letter,the copies of which were made available to the media here,that  ‘though you have criticized such lynching in Parliament, but that is not enough. What action has actually been taken against these perpetrators? We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non bailable,and that exemplary punishment should be meted out swiftly and surely. 

If life imprisonment without parole can be the sentence in cases of murder, then why not for lynchings,which are more heinous.No citizen should have to live in fear in his/her own country.”

Referring to the chanting of ‘Jai Sri Ram’, these intellectuals further drew the attention of the Prime minister and regretted that it has recently ‘become a  provocative war cry that leads to law and order problem and many lynchings take place in its name. It is shocking that so much violence should be perpetrated in the name of  religion’, they said. 

Stating that people should not be branded as Anti National or Urban Naxals for expressing their dissent  against the government, they referred to the ‘Article 19 of the Constitution of India’ and said it ‘protects freedom of speech and expressions of which dissent is an integral part’. 

They also hoped that their ‘suggestions would be taken in the spirit that they are meant – as Indians genuinely concerned with, and anxious about the fate of our nation ‘. 

Among the 49 signatories to the long letter are noted filmmakers like Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Aparna Sen, Gautam Ghosh, Anurag Kasyap, Shyam Benegal, Ketan Mehata and Mani Ratnam, Authors like Binayak Sen,Ashis Nandy, Ramchandra Guha,Partha Chatterjee and Amit Chowdhury,Actors like Soumitra Chatterjee, Kaushik Sen, Anjan Dutta,Kanio Khrusti, Kankana Sensharma and Parambrata Chatterjee, Artistes like Chtra Sarkar, Darshan Shah and Physicians like Debal Sen and Shivaji Basu  and many others from various other fields.

Later Aparna Sen in an interaction highlighted the purpose behind writing such an open letter to the Prime minister at the present juncture and hoped that strong and immediate action would be taken to prevent such condemnable incidents in different parts of the country including those in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and elsewhere severely denting the image of the country outside.

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