On Tuesday, 49 people, including award-winning filmmakers Aparna Sen and Mani Ratnam, and historian Ramachandra Guha, wrote to PM Modi, urging him to intervene in cases of hate crimes and atrocities against minority communities.
Sixty-two personalities, including actor Kangana Ranaut, Central Board of Film Certification chief Prasoon Joshi and classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, have written an open letter against the “selective outrage and false narratives” of celebrities who had earlier penned an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over lynching incidents in the country.
Titled ‘Against Selective Outrage & False Narratives,’ the letter terms those who wrote about mob-killings as “self-styled guardians and conscience keepers” and charges them of political bias.
“An open letter which has been published on July 23 2019, and addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has astonished us. Forty nine self-styled ‘guardians’ and ‘conscience keepers’ of the nation and of democratic values have once again expressed selective concern and demonstrated a clear political bias and motive,” the letter by 62 personalities reads.
It terms the letter on lynching incidents a “document of selective outrage” that comes across as an attempt to “foist a false narrative with the intention of denigrating the democratic ethos and norms of our collective functioning as a nation and people.”
“It is aimed at tarnishing India’s international standing and to negatively portray Prime Minister Modi’s untiring efforts to effectuate governance on the foundations of positive nationalism and humanism which is the core of Indianness,” the letter read.
“The signatories to the ‘open letter’ have, in the past, kept silent when tribals and the marginalised have become victims of Naxal terror, they have kept silent when separatists have issued diktats to burn schools in Kashmir, they have kept silent when the demand for dismembering India, for making pieces of her –Tukde Tukde — were made, they kept silent when slogans chanted by terrorists and terror groups were echoed in some leading university campuses in the country,” it added.
The new letter also includes names of Grammy Award winner instrumentalist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar, Vivek Agnihotri and Ashok Pandit, actor Pallavi Joshi, folk artist Malini Awasthi, actor Manoj Joshi and film personality Biswajit Chatterjee among others.
Altogether, they have said that for the 49 celebrities, who earlier wrote a letter to the prime minister, “it seems the freedom, unity and integrity of India can be bartered away in the name of freedom of speech and expression”.
“But for us, the unity and integrity of India, her freedom is sacrosanct and anyone who questions these, who works to dilute or destroy these, who conspires to disturb these need to be resisted. Some of the signatories to the ‘open letter’ have a record of acting as mouthpieces and ideologues for insurgents, separatists and terrorists in the past. Their concern, therefore, smacks of dishonesty and opportunism,” they said.
The letter added that, “In fact, under the Modi regime we see maximum liberty to differ, to criticise and to abuse the government and the dispensation in power — the spirit of dissent has never been stronger.”
“The Constitution of India certainly gives the right to dissent but not the right to try and break India apart. To disguise the propensity for subversion by the name of dissent is a dangerous trait,” the letter reads.
The letter by the 62 celebrities states that the PM has spoken out against lynching incidents repeatedly and respective state governments are empowered to take action.
“We would urge everyone to give up being selective and condemn lynching, discrimination and desecration of religious places with equal vehemence when they occur. Instead of indulging in grand-standing, personalities with a social and public profile ought to generate greater awareness on the need to tackle and eliminate the mind-set that leads to lynching,” the letter adds.
They have further stated that the open letter by the 49 celebrities “comes across to us as an attempt to mock the mandate of the marginalised, to create a false sense of fear and siege and to try and derail India’s march towards collective empowerment of all sections of society. It is clearly an attempt to defame the nation. We do condemn the conspiracy.”
In the letter, the 62 celebrities have also stated that the 49 people, who wrote to the PM, “did not display the courage to stand beside women who were opposed to and are struggling against the regressive triple talaq tradition and did not speak out for the need of equality and empowerment in this case.”
“The selective outrage and amnesia of this particular group makes us believe that they are working to a certain agenda and are only playing into the hands of those forces that are out Balkanise India and to destabilise her,” they said.
“This group has also repeatedly expressed disdain for the faith of the majority in India. They have repeatedly heaped derision on those who believe in Lord Ram and who derive strength and solace by chanting his sacred name. This letter is a disguised attempt to pour disdain on the subalterns for whom faith and worship are defining dimensions,” the celebs added.
While concluding their letter, the 62 celebrities said, “We are confident that India shall continue her march of all round development, of progress and of social equity and not pay heed to those who try to destabilise her polity and society through trying to generate a false sense of siege and victimhood. Finally it shall be the triumph of democracy, of unity, of the Constitution and of the mantra of Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas!”
The 49 celebrities from different fields including singer Shubha Mudgal, actor Konkona Sen Sharma and filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam, among others, had written the letter to Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday, demanding that “exemplary punishment” should be meted out “swiftly and surely” in lynching cases.
They also highlighted that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a “provocative war-cry” in the present day that leads to law and order problems and “many lynchings take place in its name”.