“Regrettably ‘Jai Shree Ram’ has become a provocative war-cry today”, “The name of Ram is sacred to many in the majority community of India… put a stop to the name of Ram being defiled”, “Over 254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between January 1, 2009 and October 29, 2018”, “840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016”, “Dear Prime Minister, what action has been taken against the perpetrators?”
These are some of the statements made and questions asked in an open letter signed by social activists, filmmakers and artists like Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Binayak Sen, Soumitro Chatterjee, Aparna Sen, Konkana Sen Sharma, Revathy, Shyam Benegal, Shubha Mudgal, Rupam Islam, Anupam Roy, Parambrata, Riddhi Sen to name a few.
The letter expresses deep concern over the growing trend of lynching by a mob in this country. They also demanded non-bailable, exemplary punishment for those found guilty of the crime.
People like Binayak Sen, director Anjan Dutta and Gautam Ghosh, who have signed the letter, also expressed the tendency of those in power of tagging someone an ‘anti-national’ or ‘urban Naxal’ whenever he or she tries to show dissent against the ruling government.
Times Now spoke to singer Subha Mudgal, who said actor-director Aparna Sen was instrumental in reaching out to the big names in the film industry and explaining to them about the letter. Mudgal also added that she has always been against ‘mob violence’ and earlier as well has endorsed films like Amu that was made on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Times Now also spoke to National Award-winning Bengali actor Riddhi Sen who said, “Communal disturbances are increasing, and becoming scarier by the day. Thus, it’s our appeal to the PM, that India has always welcomed gender, religious and caste diversity. The word ‘secular’ in our Constitution should restore its value.”
The signatories appealed to PM Modi to make an environment where dissent is not crushed and only makes for a stronger nation.
Filmmaker and social activist Ashok Pandit, however, vehemently criticised the letter saying, “So the ‘urban Naxals’, ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ have received finances from our enemy countries to make noise before the Assembly elections. We will fight them out. No worries.”