Days after a sedition case was filed against 50 celebrities for writing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against hate crimes on the country, 180 members of the cultural community, including actor Naseeruddin Shah, cinematographer Anand Pradhan, historian Romila Thapar and filmmaker-activist Saba Dewan, have said in a new letter that they will continue to speak up.
Newsclick quoted from the letter that said: “All of us, as members of the Indian cultural community, as citizens of conscience, condemn such harassment. We do more: we endorse every word of the letter our colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister. This is why we share their letter here once again, and appeal to the cultural, academic and legal communities to do the same. This is why more of us will speak every day. Against mob lynching. Against the silencing of people’s voices. Against the misuse of courts to harass citizens.”
The signatories asked whether speaking up against hate crimes could be called an act of sedition and if such cases filed against those speaking up was a ploy to silence those who were speaking up.
“An FIR has been lodged against forty-nine of our colleagues in the cultural community, simply because they performed their duty as respected members of civil society. They wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister, expressing concern about mob lynching in our country.
“Can this be called an act of sedition? Or is harassment by misusing the courts a ploy to silence citizens’ voices?” PTI quoted the letter as saying.
The latest letter was issued on Monday, October 7.
Last week an FIR was lodged against Bihar’s Muzaffarpur against several eminent people including directors Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Mani Ratnam, writer Ramachandra Guha, actor Soumitra Chatterjee and vocalist Shubha Mudgal.
They had, in a letter written in July this year, said that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ had become a “provocative war cry” and that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities needed to be stopped immediately.
The new letter also included signatories like writers Ashok Vajpeyi and Jerry Pinto, academician Ira Bhaskar, poet Jeet Thayil, author Shamsul Islam amd musician TM Krishna. They promised they will continue to speak up against silencing of “people’s voices”.
Meanwhile, the government has denied involvement in the sedition case. It said that the government had nothing to do with it.
“This has nothing to do with the BJP and the government. This is a canard which is always spread to defame the Modi government and used to give an impression that there is a choking of freedom of expression in a draconian fashion under it,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told PTI.
“This is an absolute falsehood spread by vested interests and tukde-tukde gang,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)