'Jai Shree Ram' has become a war cry; celebs pen a letter to PM Modi on lynching
49 eminent persons from different backgrounds have joined forces to address the issue and come out with the letter
Celebrities including Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Ratnam and Konkona Sensharma, 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 eminent persons from different backgrounds have joined forces to address the issue and come out with the letter, dated July 23. Among the signatories are Shyam Benegal, Riddhi Sen, Ramchandra Guha, Binayak Sen, Soumitra Chatterjee, Revathy, Shubha Mudgal and Anupam Roy, among 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. 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 that 254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between January 1, 2009, and October 29, 2018, and expressed regret over the fact that little had 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 such 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," the letter further read.
On raising their voice against an issue 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'," it read.
Recent cases of lynching in India
- Last week, a mob reportedly beat to death three men suspected of trying to steal cattle in Bihar. They were caught by villagers while trying to load cattle on a truck.
- Twenty-four-year-old Tabrez Ansari was reportedly assaulted by a lynch mob — which forced him to say 'Jai Shree Ram' — in Jharkhand. He succumbed to his injuries.
- A Muslim cab driver, Faizal Usman Khan, was allegedly beaten and forced to chant Jai Shree Ram, in Mumbai, in June.
- A teacher, Hafeez Mohd Sahrukh Haldar, said he was pushed off a moving train for not chanting 'Jai Shree Ram', while he was travelling in West Bengal.
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Anurag Kashyap, Swara Bhasker urge PM Narendra Modi to stop mob lynching