Dear Mr Modi, Here's Why You Need To Speak Up About Dadri

09/10/2015 8:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, makes a gesture of dialing phone as he addresses people during the launch of digital India project in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The initiative involves creating opportunities for all Indian citizens by harnessing digital technologies, to empower every citizen with access to digital services, knowledge and information. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

Dear Prime Minister Modi,

Sir, I find your silence on the Dadri lynching to be both deafening and incomprehensible. You are a leader who likes to chat on Twitter and reach out to the public directly. So why won't you make an official statement condemning this horrific, heinous murder of the 50-year-old Muslim farmer?

Mr Prime Minister, I strongly believe that a few words from you would be a game-changer in this ugly, sordid mess.

I wish you would speak now. I think you should tell the people all over the world that your government does not endorse the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq.

And that your party is not responsible for encouraging this intolerance and mob violence. Most of all, you should tell the world that you, personally, do not condone this savagery.

Mr Prime Minister, you take to social media with frequency and speed when you want to tell the people about your commitment in bringing more business to India and making it an Internet haven for companies like Google and Facebook.

"History records these moments when leaders admit faults, take personal responsibility and win the admiration of their people. Their approval ratings always go higher."

You post pictures of all the historic places you go to and all the selfies with Indians who give you a "rock star" welcome.

Don't you think you should talk about this incident? Don't you think that people deserve to be reassured that India is a safe, secular country where minorities are not lynched periodically?

Sir, as of this month, you have made 28 trips globally since you've been elected. During these visits, I assume you have had extensive talks with all these world leaders. You see how these heads of governments in democratic countries at least, are answerable to the people.

For example, President Barack Obama unfailingly makes it his mission to speak to Americans every single time there is a mass shooting. In all, since Obama has taken office, there have been 11 such shootings and he has responded to each one of them.

Two days ago, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talked to the public about the 15-year-old teenage gunman link to terrorism about the incident in Sydney.

And I will give you another example, in the 2014 shooting of the Ottawa Parliament, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper came out to make a statement to the public swiftly about the terror act.

They all speak to the voters because they are aware that one of their most important duties is to be accountable to the public. As leaders, they need to show that they are in control and the country is running smoothly. They want to send a clear message that violence in any form is unacceptable. They do it quickly and succinctly.

History records these moments when leaders admit faults, take personal responsibility and win the admiration of their people. Their approval ratings always go higher.

For me, there is one defining moment of leadership that stands out: In 2012, President Obama was making another bid for the White House when the Benghazi crisis happened.

He brushed aside the statements made by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying that it was her fault. He faced the nation directly as he said, "I'm the President. I'm always responsible."

And he went on to be re-elected for another term.

Sir, you were elected on a platform of hope. You said this was going to be a new era. A clean, prosperous India was going to move into the digital age.

You talked directly to us -- the overseas Indians -- and you made promises of how we were not going to be "ashamed" of being Indians any more.

But when we hear of these incidents, we are "ashamed" of our country. And worse still, we are worried about our families who still live there.

One of the greatest things about living abroad is the peace, stability and safety that these countries offer us. We can count on the laws of the land and the rules that are put in place to protect all citizens.

We want this for our own people too.

Your silence is ominous. You should clear the air. You should clarify that you abhor these senseless, tragic atrocities committed on minorities.

"You need to send a clear message these incidents are not a 'Make in India' concept."

The weak, effectual members of your party are making ludicrous statements that range from justification to denial. It's an "accident" or "it's an unfortunate incident" or "these things happen" or that "no communal colour" should be added. They have also said that you "cannot comment on every murder" -- I agree with that statement but this is not an ordinary murder.

Mr Prime Minister, a man was murdered in cold blood. He was handpicked because he was a Muslim. There cannot be any way of sugar-coating this. There must be prosecutions and lengthy jail sentences. You need to send a clear message these incidents are not a "Make in India" concept.

There is a perception that the fanatical obsession with saving the cows comes with your approval. You need to step forward and clarify that this is not what you meant when you talked about the preservation of cows. You need to say that people come first and that they are more important than animals because obviously there is a certain section of people who do not believe that.

India must stand for a free country where freedoms are guaranteed to all people.

I look forward to that speech as an Indian, as a Sikh, as a Hindu, as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter and as a journalist who cares about the world and human rights.

Thank you.

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