• An open letter to our fellow citizens: More of us will speak every day…

    Indian Cultural Forum

    October 7, 2019

    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?

    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.


    Text of open letter written to Prime Minister Modi on 23 July 2019 by 49 eminent citizens, including Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap, Ashis Nandy and Ramachandra Guha:


    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.

    Our Constitution describes India as a secular socialist democratic republic where citizens of all religions, ethnicities, gender and castes are equal. Hence, to ensure that every citizen enjoys the rights given to her/him by the Constitution, our submission is:

    1. 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.

    Further, 254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between January 1, 2009, and October 29, 2018, where at least 91 persons were killed and 579 were injured (FactChecker.in database, October 30, 2018). The Citizen's Religious Hate-Crime Watch recorded that Muslims, (14% of India's population) were the victims in 62% for cases, and Christians (2% of the population), in 14% cases. About 90% of these attacks were reported after May 2014, when your Government assumed power nationally.

    You have criticized 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 and surely. If life imprisonment without parole can be the sentence in cases of murder, why not for lynchings, which are even more heinous? No citizen should have to live in fear in his/her own country!

    Regrettably "Jai Sri 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 to see so much violence perpetrated in the name of religion! These are not the Middle Ages! The name of Ram is sacred to many in the majority community of India. As the highest Executive of this country, you must put a stop to the name of Ram being defiled in this manner.

    2. There is no democracy without dissent. People should not be branded ‘anti-national’ or 'urban Naxal' and incarcerated because of dissent against the Government. Article 19 of the Constitution of India protects freedom of speech and expression of which dissent is an integral part.

    Criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising the nation. No ruling party is synonymous with the country where it is in power. It is only one of the political parties of that country. Hence anti-government stands cannot be equated with anti-national sentiments. An open environment where dissent is not crushed, only makes for a stronger nation.

    We hope our suggestions will be taken in the spirit that they are meant – as Indians genuinely concerned with, and anxious about, the fate of our nation.

    Read the statement in Hindi here.
    ​Read the statement in Malayalam here.

    1A Mangai63Ira Bhaskar125Rajan Gurukkal
    2Aarti Sethi64J Devika126Rajashri Dasgupta
    3Abha Dev Habib65Javed Malick127Rajendra Chenni
    4Abhishek Kaicker66Jawari Mal Parakh128Rajendra Sharma
    5Abhishek Majumdar67Jeet Thayil129Rajesh Joshi
    6Achin Vanaik68Jerry Pinto130Ranbir Kaleka
    7Achyutanand Mishra69Jyothi A131Ranjit Hoskote
    8Ajitha GS70Jyoti Punwani132Ravikant
    9Akeel Bilgrami71K Satchidanandan133Rekha Awasthi
    10Amit Bhaduri72K Srilata134Renu Ramanath
    11Ammu Joseph73Karthik Venkatesh135Ritu Menon
    12Amrita Pande74Kavery Nambisan136Romila Thapar
    13Anand Pradhan75KG Sankara Pillai137Ruchi Chaturvedi
    14Anand Teltumbde76KP Fabian138Rukmini Bhaya Nair
    15Ananya Parikh77KP Jayasankar139S Raghunandana
    16Ania Loomba78KP Ramanunni140Saba Dewan
    17Anil Janvijay79Krishnan Unni P141Saba Hasan
    18Anitha Thampi80KS Parthasarathy142Sabeena Gadihoke
    19Anjali Monteiro81Kunal Sen143Saleem Peeradina
    20Arun Dev82Leela Jacinto144Salil Chaturvedi
    21Arundhati Dhuru83MA Baby145Salim Yusufji
    22Arundhati Ghosh84Madhu Bhaduri146Sandeep Pandey
    23Arunima Sehgal85Madhusree Dutta147Sandhya Taksale
    24Ashok Bhaumik86Mallika Sarabhai148Sanjeev Kumar
    25Ashok Vajpeyi87Mangad Rathnakaran149Saumya Chakrabarti
    26Ashutosh Kumar88Mangalesh Dabral150Savithri Rajeevan
    27Atamjit Singh89Manishi Jani151SG Vasudev
    28Ayesha Kidwai90Maria Couto152Shafey Kidwai
    29B Rajeevan91Maya Rao153Shamsul Islam
    30Badri Raina92Merlin Moli154Shamya Dasgupta
    31Bajrang Bihari93MMP Singh155Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri
    32Bali singh94Moinak Biswas156Shashi Deshpande
    33Balvant Kaur95Moloyashree Hashmi157Sherna Dastur
    34Bharat Tiwari96Moolchandra Gautam158Shoma A Chatterjji
    35Bhasha Singh97MP Pratheesh159Siddharth
    36Bodhisatv98Mridula Garg160Sonia Jabbar
    37BRP Bhaskar99Mridula Koshy161Sreyashi Dastidar
    38Chaman Lal100MV Narayanan162Subhasini Ali
    39Chanchal Chauhan101Naina Dayal163Subhasis Bandyopadhyay
    40Chandrakant Patil102Nancy Adajania164Subodh Varma
    41Civic Chandran103Nandita Narain165Sudeshna Sengupta
    42CK Meena104Naseeruddin Shah166Sudhanva Deshpande
    43Damodar Mauzo105Natasha Badhwar167Sudhir Chandra
    44Devaki Khanna106Nayantara Sahgal168Sumangala Damodaran
    45Devendra Choube107Neelan Premji169Sunil P Elayidom
    46Dilip Borkar108Neelima Sharma170Svati Joshi
    47EV Ramakrishnan109Neeraj Malik171Syantani Chatterjee
    48Faisal Khan110Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay172Syeda Hameed
    49Gauhar Raza111Nilanjana Bhowmick173TM Krishna
    50Gayatri Spivak112NP Chekkutty174Udaya Kumar
    51Geeta Kapur113NS Madhavan175Vaasanthi Sundaram
    52Geetanjali Shree114Nupur Asher176Valay Singh
    53Girdhar Rathi115Pamela Philipose177Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
    54Gita Jayaraj116PK Parakkadavu178Vibha Maurya
    55Githa Hariharan117PK Pokker179Vijay Prashad
    56Gyan Prakash118PN Gopikrishnan180Vijaya Venkataraman
    57Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar119Poile Sengupta181Vishnu Nagar
    58Harsh Mander120Prabir Purkayastha182Vivan Sundaram
    59Hemlata Mahishwar121Pradeep Chakraverti183Vivek Narayanan
    60Himanjali Sankar122Pramod Ranjan184Yousuf Saeed
    61Hiralal Rajasthani123Purushottam Agrawal185Zoya Hasan
    62Ina Puri124Rahman Abbas


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