It’s the season of open letters once again. Earlier this week, a group of filmmakers, activists and artists wrote an open letter to the Narendra Modi government, expressing concerns over the increasing number of lynchings in India. Now, 61 cultural personalties including Kangana Ranaut and Prasoon Joshi have written a letter to counter what they call “selective outrage and false narratives”.
“An open letter which has been published on July 23 2019, and addressed to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has astonished us. Forty nine self-styled ‘guardians’ and conscience keepers’ of the nation... have expressed selective concern and demonstrated a clear political bias and motive,” the letter read.
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, MP Sonal Mansingh and instrumentalist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt were also among the signatories to this letter.
Criticising the open letter that was signed by 49 people including Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Binayak Sen, Konkana Sen Sharma, Mani Ratnam, Ramchandra Guha, Soumitro Chatterjee, and Shyam Benegal, this one said, “To us, the undersigned, this document of selective outrage comes across as an attempt to foist a FALSE NARRATIVE... to negatively portray Prime Minister Modi’s untiring efforts. The signatories of 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 dictates to burn schools in Kashmir, they have kept silent when the demand for dismembering India were made.”
The letter also accused the signatories of the “open letter” of staying silent when the ‘Tukde tukde’ gang made demands of “dismembering India” and when the marginalised and tribals became victims of “naxal terror”.
The open letter also goes on to praise PM Modi for his policy of “sabka saath sabka vikas”.
In Tuesday’s letter, the celebrities had condemned the atrocities committed on marginalised communities. “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.”
It added that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a “provocative war cry today that leads to law and order problem, and many lynchings take place in its name”.
There have been several instances of hate crimes since PM Modi returned for a second term. Earlier this month, 25 men, who claimed to be cattle movers transporting cows to Maharashtra, were tied up, thrashed and forced to chant “gau mata ki jai” by cow vigilantes in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa district.
In June, 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari was thrashed by a mob in Jharkhand for alleged theft and is seen in a purported video being forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”.