On 23 July, a group of artists, filmmakers, social activists and medical specialists signed an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting the atrocities against Dalits and minorities in recent times.
Around 49 signatories including Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Shubha Mudgal, Shyam Benegal, Soumitra Chatterjee, Ramchandra Guha and Mani Ratnam expressed their concerns regarding a number of "tragic events that have been happening in recent times."
It's Intolerance 2.0 or 3.0? pic.twitter.com/fzkgIWkJWW
— Anindya (@AninBanerjee) July 24, 2019
From mob lynching of Dalits and minorities, the increasing cases of hate crimes in the country, to the acts of violence in the name of religion — the letter brings to the fore all of it with statistical data as well a plea to the Prime Minister demanding stringent actions against the perpetrators.
"No citizen should have to live in fear in his/her own country," the letter says. It also focuses on the importance of dissent in a democracy: "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."
In a press conference on 24 July, Aparna Sen said, "Lynching attacks against minorities and Dalits is wrong and has nothing to do with any party. I appeal to PM Narendra Modi to intervene and let the perpetrators get life imprisonment.
"Why are people of different faiths forced to speak 'Jai Shri Ram'?" she asks. "If 'Jai Shri Ram' is said with love, that is a true spirit of secular India. Forcing, beating, and killing one is not tolerable," she adds and stresses that hate crime in any form is condemnable regardless of faith, caste, religion etc. However, she feels that "hate crime against Dalits and minorities are on the rise," for which the letter also adds statistical data from "very reliable sources".
When asked why the letter was addressed right now, Sen responded, "We are doing this because we love our country. We are raising our voices against the secular fabric of our country being ruined". She added, "No one has the right to brand any one of us (the signatories) as anti-nationals...One must not politicise this."
Updated Date: Jul 24, 2019 16:26:35 IST