• What Our Voices Can Do, What We Still Need to Do

    ICF Team

    October 10, 2019

    The Bihar police has closed the FIR against the 49 respected citizens who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi. The letter expressed their concern about growing instances of mob lynching, continuing caste inequalities, and the misuse of religion. The FIR was dropped subsequent to an order from the Muzaffar SSP, citing lack of substance in the allegations against the signatories of the letter.

    We can see this small victory as ours. It helps us remember what we can do, even in dark times, when people’s voices come together.

    Over the last few days, individuals and groups across the country have registered their protest against the FIR and its allegations, and endorsed the open letter to the PM. Students have sent a deluge of letters to the PM; there have been protests by cultural organisations. More than 1500 individuals from different parts of the country have signed statements to condemn the harassment of citizens who ask questions about violence, injustice and inequality in our country. They have registered their outrage at the targeting of people on the basis of religion and caste.

    Our voices – of reason, outrage, of solidarity with our fellow citizens – were heard this time. But this is only the beginning. Yes, we need to take on the misuse of courts to harass citizens. Yes, we need to take on the use of the colonial law of sedition in this, the 150th year of Gandhi’s birth. And yes, we need to insist on freedom of expression.

    But most of all, we need to find new ways of challenging attacks on minorities, of challenging caste inequality. We need to move forward, with full strength, against exclusionary politics. 


    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 Nyishi here.
    Read the statement in Punjabi here.
    Read the statement in Telugu here.
    Read the statement in Kannada here
    Read the statement in Marathi here.
    Read the statement in Gujarati here.
    Read the statement in Bengali here.
     

    1 A Mangai 331 Jhuma Sen 661 Rashmitha Tulabandula Juvvadi
    2 Aarti Aney 332 Jogin Sengupta 662 Rasika Agashe
    3 Aarti Sethi 333 Johny ML 663 Ratna Raman
    4 Abadan Khan Amitava 334 Joseph Mathai 664 Raushni Iyer Yadav
    5 Abeer Chakravarty 335 Joyanti Sen 665 Ravi Avasthi
    6 Abha Bhaiya 336 Jyothi A 666 Ravi Bamezai
    7 Abha Dev Habib 337 Jyoti Punwani 667 Ravi Bhushan
    8 Abhay Kumar 338 Jyotirmaya Sharma 668 Ravi Mariwala
    9 Abhay Maurya 339 Jyotsana Asthana 669 Ravi Nair
    10 Abhijit Roy 340 Jyotsna Lall 670 Ravi Sidlipura
    11 Abhijit Sengupta 341 K John Koshy 671 Ravi Srivastava
    12 Abhilasha Kumari 342 K Laxmi Narayana 672 Ravikant
    13 Abhinandan Jha 343 K Satchidanandan 673 Ravikumar Kashi
    14 Abhishek Kaicker 344 K Srilata 674 Ravinder Banyal
    15 Abhishek Majumdar 345 K.Y. Ratnam 675 Ravindranath Rai
    16 Achin Vanaik 346 Kailash Chand Chauhan 676 RB samanta
    17 Achyutanand Mishra 347 Kalpana Chakravarthy 677 Rekha Awasthi
    18 Aditee Biswas 348 Kalpana Dwivedi 678 Rekha Rao
    19 Aditi Banerjee 349 Kalpana Kannabiran 679 Rekha Verma
    20 Aditi Rajeev 350 Kalpana Swaminathan 680 Renu Ramanath
    21 Aditya Nigam 351 Kalyani Chaudhuri 681 Richa Raj
    22 AI Khan 352 Kamakshi Balasubramanian 682 Ridhima Mehra
    23 Aimee Wadia 353 Kamal Chenoy 683 Rimli Bhattacharya
    24 Ajai Singh 354 Kamal Nayan Kabra 684 Rina Kamath
    25 Ajas Hyzer 355 Kamal Vora 685 Rinchin
    26 Ajay Kumar 356 Kanad Sinha 686 Rintu Thomas
    27 Ajay Mahurkar 357 Kanti Mohan Soj 687 Ritambhara Shastri
    28 Ajayan Adat 358 Karen Gabriel 688 Rittuporna Chatterjee
    29 Ajitha GS 359 Karthik Venkatesh 689 Ritu Menon
    30 Akash Ranjan 360 Karthika Nair 690 Ritwik Banerjee
    31 Akeel Bilgrami 361 Karuna Jha 691 Rizio Yohannan
    32 Akhilesh Sri 362 Kaushal Kishor 692 Rohan Dsouza
    33 Alana Savant 363 Kausik Mukhopadhyay 693 Rohit Prajapati
    34 Albeena Shakil 364 Kavery Nambisan 694 Romila Thapar
    35 Ali Imam Khan 365 Kavita Singh 695 Ronodeb Paul
    36 Alok Bajpai 366 KB Garg 696 Roop Rekha Verma
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    38 Amandeep Sandhu 368 Kedarnath Kant 698 Rosinka Chaudhuri
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    40 Amarjeet Kaur 370 Keval Arora 700 Ruchi Chaturvedi
    41 Ambar Shrivasatava 371 KG Sankara Pillai 701 Rukmini Bhaya Nair
    42 Ambika Devi 372 Khagendra Thakur 702 Rukmini Sen
    43 Ambika Tandon 373 Khalid Alvi 703 Rupa Chinaif
    44 Amit Bhaduri 374 Khalid Ashraf 704 S F A Naqvi
    45 Amit Rai 375 Kiran Shahin 705 S Irfan Habib
    46 Amita Buch 376 Kiran Singh 706 S Raghunandana
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    53 Ammu Joseph 383 KM Srinivasa Gowda 713 Sachin Desai
    54 Amrit Rajkhowa 384 Kokila Bhattacharya 714 Sachin N
    55 Amrita Pande 385 Komita Dhanda 715 Sadia Wahidi
    56 Anand K Sahay 386 Kopparthy Venkata Ramana Murthy 716 Saleem Peeradina
    57 Anand Mathew 387 KP Fabian 717 Salil Chaturvedi
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    59 Anand Swarup Verma 389 KP Ramanunni 719 Salman
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    61 Ananya Parikh 391 Krishnan Unni P 721 Sameer Chib
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    63 Ania Loomba 393 Krishnaswamy S 723 Sameera Jain
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    69 Anirban Sarkar 399 Kumkum Roy 729 Sandhya Srinivasan
    70 Anirudh Nair 400 Kunal Chattopadhyay 730 Sandhya Taksale
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    74 Anita Dube 404 L Ramdas 734 Sanjay Joshi
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    86 Anna Dani 416 M Mohanty 746 Saroop Dhruv
    87 Annie Koshi 417 M Sathyam 747 Saswati Sengupta
    88 Anshul Sharma 418 MA Baby 748 Sathya S
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    91 Anu Bal 421 Madhavi Menon 751 Satyam Srivastava
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    97 Anupama Srinivasan 427 Mahesh Kumar 757 Saurabh Bajpai
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    102 Anvita Abbi 432 Mallika Sarabhai 762 Sebastian Joseph
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    104 Apoorva CA 434 Manas Ghosh 764 Seetharama B
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    117 Arundhati Roy 447 Manu Chakravarthy N 777 Shaili Sathyu
    118 Arunima G 448 Maria Couto 778 Shakun Doundiyakhed
    119 Arunima Sehgal 449 Mariam Fatima 779 Shalinee Tripathi
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    141 Atul Gurtu 471 Moinak Biswas 801 Sherna Gandhy
    142 Atul Kumar 472 Moloyashree Hashmi 802 Shernaz Vakil
    143 Atul Pethe 473 Moolchandra Gautam 803 Shireen Jungalwala
    144 Atul Singh 474 Moses Suchith 804 Shirish Parab
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    147 Avalokita Dutt 477 Mridula Koshy 807 Shobha Naresh
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    150 Awadhesh 480 Mrinal 810 Shobhna Jain
    151 Awadhesh Kumar Misra 481 Mrityunjay 811 Shoma A Chatterjji
    152 Ayesha Kidwai 482 Mrityunjay 812 Shreya Subrahmanyam
    153 Ayushya Kaul 483 MS Murali Krishna 813 Shreyasi Dastidar
    154 B Rajeevan 484 MS Prakash Babu 814 Shripad Bhat
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    157 Bali singh 487 Mukunda Rao 817 Shubha
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    159 Barun Prabhat 489 MV Narayanan 819 Siddharth
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    161 Basheer Thettan 491 N S Goswami 821 SK Das
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    163 Batul Mukhtiar 493 Nadeem Rezavi 823 Smriti Kapoor
    164 BB Choudhary 494 Naina Dayal 824 Sobha Rani
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    166 Bharat Tiwari 496 Nalin Ranjan Singh 826 Somashekarappa Hiriyur Mallaiah
    167 Bharati Jagannathan 497 Namita Singh 827 Sonal Kellogg
    168 Bhasha Singh 498 Namrata Sen 828 Sonia Jabbar
    169 Bhaskar Chattopadhyay 499 Nancy Adajania 829 Sonia Sarkar
    170 Bijayini Satpathy 500 Nand Bhardwaj 830 Souparna Lahiri
    171 Bina Agarwal 501 Nandana Reddy 831 Souradeep Roy
    172 Bina Paul 502 Nandini Rao 832 SP Ambrose
    173 Bodhisatv 503 Nandita Basu 833 Sreedhara Murthy
    174 Bose Krishnamachari 504 Nandita Narain 834 Sreyashi Dastidar
    175 Bratati Pande 505 Nandita Rao 835 Srimanjari Ballal
    176 Brij Kumar Pandey 506 Narain Bairath 836 Srinivas Kakkilaya
    177 Brij Tankha 507 Narbhinder 837 Sriram MS
    178 BRP Bhaskar 508 Naresh Dadhich 838 Sriram Srinivasan
    179 BS Prakash 509 Naresh Prerna 839 Subba Ghosh
    180 Carol Rao 510 Naresh Saxena 840 Subhadra Channa
    181 CG Manjula 511 Naseeruddin Shah 841 Subhangini Thorat
    182 Chaman Lal 512 Nataraj Honnavalli 842 Subhash Malik
    183 Chanchal Chauhan 513 Natasha Badhwar 843 Subhasini Ali
    184 Chandra Dev Ola 514 Navjot Altaf 844 Subhasis Bandyopadhyay
    185 Chandrakant Patil 515 Navnita Chadha Behera 845 Subhro Bandopadhyay
    186 Chandranath Ray 516 Navrekha Sharma 846 Subir Dey
    187 Chandrashekhar Chaurasia 517 Navsharan Singh 847 Subodh Bedre
    188 Chandrashekhar Phansalkar 518 Nayana Pai 848 Subodh Varma
    189 Chandrika Parmar 519 Nayantara Sahgal 849 Sucheta Mahajan
    190 Chhaya Datar 520 Nazim Shekh 850 Suchorita Chattopadhyay
    191 Chinki Sinha 521 Neel Chaudhuri 851 Sudarshan Shetty
    192 Civic Chandran 522 Neelam Gupta 852 Sudeshna Banerjee
    193 CK Meena 523 Neelam Jeena 853 Sudeshna Sengupta
    194 CP Chandrasekhar 524 Neelan Premji 854 Sudha Chaudhari
    195 CP Geevan 525 Neelima Sharma 855 Sudha Gopalakrishnan
    196 CS Chandrika 526 Neeraj Malik 856 Sudha Nagavarapu
    197 Cyril Mathias 527 Neha Singh 857 Sudhanshi Vasudev
    198 D K Shukla 528 Nikhat Reaz 858 Sudhanshu Mishra
    199 D Narasimha Reddy 529 Nikhil Jois 859 Sudhanva Deshpande
    200 Dakxin Chhara 530 Nikhil Narkar 860 Sudhir Chandra
    201 Damodar Mauzo 531 Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay 861 Sudhir Singh
    202 Darshana Dave 532 Nilanjana Bhowmick 862 Sudhir Suman
    203 Dayanidhi Chaudhary 533 Nina Rao 863 Suhit Kelkar
    204 Debabrata Roy Laifungbam 534 Nipun Makkar 864 Sujata Srinivasan
    205 Debasish Chatterji 535 Niranjan Kumar 865 Sujay Saple
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    208 Deepak Kumar Rai 538 Nisha Biswas 868 Sumanta Banerjee
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    222 Dhirendra K Jha 552 Pali Bhupinder Singh 882 Supriya Shukla
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    225 Dinanath Sumitra 555 Pamela Philipose 885 Suresh Chabria
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    227 DN Jha 557 Pankaj Chaturvedi 887 Suresha B
    228 Dolphy D’souza 558 Parikshit Dalal 888 Surupa Sen
    229 Dunu Roy 559 Pariplab Chakraborty 889 Suryanarayana Reddy R
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    231 Dvijendra Nath Kalia 561 Parvez Ahmad 891 Sushant Shalini
    232 Ebbar Rabbi 562 Paula Mariwala 892 Sushi Kadanakuppe
    233 EV Ramakrishnan 563 Phaniraj K 893 Sushma Varma
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    235 Faraz Ahmad 565 PK Pokker 895 Sushmit Ghosh
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    238 G Rajashekhar 568 Poile Sengupta 898 Swapna Liddle
    239 G Ramakrishna 569 Poonam Girdhani 899 Swarn Kanta
    240 Gafoor Karuvannur 570 Poonam Kaushik 900 Swatija Manorama
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    242 Gargi Bharadwaj 572 Poorna Swami 902 Syeda Hameed
    243 Gauhar Raza 573 Prabal Agarwal 903 T Surendra Rao
    244 Gautam Bhattacharya 574 Prabha Kumari 904 Tabasheer Zutshi
    245 Gautam Krishnankutty 575 Prabha Pandey 905 Talib Khwaja
    246 Gayatri Spivak 576 Prabhjot Kaur 906 Tani Bhargava
    247 Geeta Kapur 577 Prabir Purkayastha 907 Tanwir Akhtar
    248 Geeta Mahashabde 578 Pradeep Chakraverti 908 Tara Rao
    249 Geeta Seshu 579 Pradeep K Deb 909 Tariq Khan
    250 Geetanjali Shree 580 Pradip Kumar Datta 910 Tasneem Fatima
    251 Geetha Mehra 581 Prakash Bare 911 Tathagata Bhattacharya
    252 Geetha Thoopal 582 Prakash Chaturvedi 912 Tejal Kanitkar
    253 Geetika Vidya Ohlyan 583 Pramod Bagde 913 Thelma Taylor
    254 Ghanshyam Shah 584 Pramod Kale 914 Tiny Shah Singh
    255 Ghasi Ram Chaudhry 585 Pramod Kumar 915 TK Rajalakshmi
    256 Ghazala Jamil 586 Pramod Ranjan 916 TK Thomas
    257 Gigi Scaria 587 Prashant Mukherjee 917 TM Krishna
    258 Giitanjali Chiya 588 Pratap Bhanu Mehta 918 TM Thomas
    259 Girdhar Rathi 589 Pratishtha Pandya 919 Tony Sequeira
    260 Giriraj Kishore 590 Praveer Peter 920 Uday Narkar
    261 Gita Jayaraj 591 Prem Jha 921 Udaya Kumar
    262 Githa Hariharan 592 Prem Kumar Vijayan 922 Udit Yadav
    263 Glenissa Pereira 593 Prem Tiwary 923 Ujjwal K Chowdhury
    264 Goddanti Omkarnath 594 Premshankar 924 Ullattil Achu
    265 Gopal Menon 595 Pritam Paul 925 Uma Gupta
    266 Gopal Pradhan 596 Prithpal Sehdave 926 Upendra Shankar
    267 Gopal prasad 597 Priya Sarukkai Chabria 927 Usha Rai
    268 Gopika Chowfla 598 Priyanka 928 Utsa Patnaik
    269 Gopika Nath 599 Priyanka Borpujari 929 V Alan Bosco
    270 Gopinath Ravindran 600 Priyanka Pathak 930 V N Tripathi
    271 Gourab Ghosh 601 Punam Zutshi 931 Vaasanthi
    272 Govind Ram 602 Purushothama Bilimale 932 Vaasanthi Sundaram
    273 Gowreesh Kapani 603 Purushottam Agrawal 933 Vagish K Jha
    274 Gudavarthy Vijay 604 Pushpamala N 934 Vakeel Sahni
    275 Gun Nidhi 605 Qaiser Shamim 935 Vakulabharanam Ramakrishna
    276 Gurjit Singh Cheema 606 R Nagaraj 936 Valay Singh
    277 Gurpreet Sidhu 607 R Padmini 937 Valerie Baliwalla
    278 Gyan Prakash 608 R S Joshi 938 Vani Subramanian
    279 H Pattabhirama Somayaji 609 Radha Kumar 939 Vani Verma
    280 Habib Khan 610 Radhika Chadha 940 Varun Prabhat
    281 Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar 611 Radhika Kapur 941 Vasudha Dalmia
    282 Hanumakshi Gogi 612 Radhika Menon 942 Vasundhara Chauhan
    283 Hany Babu 613 Raghu Godavarthi 943 Veena Hariharan
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    286 Harriet Raghunathan 616 Rahul Chandra 946 Venkataramana Aithal
    287 Harsh Kapoor 617 Rahul Kumar Ishwar 947 Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
    288 Harsh Mander 618 Rajan Gurukkal 948 Venugopal Rao
    289 Hemendra Chandaliya 619 Rajan Gurukkal 949 Vibha Maurya
    290 Hemlata Mahishwar 620 Rajani Mani 950 Vibha Puri Das
    291 Himanjali Sankar 621 Rajashri Dasgupta 951 Vickram Crishna
    292 Himanshu Pandya 622 Rajat Datta 952 Vidya Das Arora
    293 Himmat Seth 623 Rajat Nagpal 953 Vidya Vakulabharanam
    294 Hiralal Rajasthani 624 Rajeev Bhargava 954 Vidyut Gore
    295 Hiralal Rajasthani 625 Rajendra Chenni 955 Vijay Crishna
    296 Iliyas Husain 626 Rajendra Kumar 956 Vijay Padaki
    297 Imrana Khan 627 Rajendra Prasad Singh 957 Vijay Prashad
    298 Ina Puri 628 Rajendra Rajan 958 Vijay Swami
    299 Inder Salim 629 Rajendra Sah 959 Vijaya Venkataraman
    300 Indira Unninayar 630 Rajendra Sharma 960 Vijayaraghavan
    301 Indranee Dutta 631 Rajesh Joshi 961 Viji Iyengar
    302 Indrapramit Roy 632 Rajesh Kumar 962 Vikas Maniar
    303 Indu Agnihotri 633 Rajesh Kumar 963 Vikash kumar
    304 Indu Chandrasekhar 634 Rajesh Umadevi Srinivas 964 Vikash Narain Rai
    305 Iqbal Niyazi 635 Rajiv Gupta 965 Vikram Iyengar
    306 Ira Bhaskar 636 Rajiv Velicheti 966 Vikram Tandon
    307 Ishrat Syed 637 Raju Sharma 967 Vilasini Kumar
    308 J Devika 638 Rakesh Gupta 968 Vimala KS
    309 Jahangir Asghar Jani 639 Rakesh Tiwari 969 Vineet Tiwari
    310 Jahar Kanungo 640 Rakhi Basu 970 Vineetabh
    311 Jai Arjun Singh 641 Ram Rahman 971 Vineetabh Kumar
    312 Jaiwanti Shukla 642 Ramchandra PN 972 Vinyasa Hegade
    313 Jamsheed Rizwani 643 Ramesh Bajaj 973 Vipin Balguher
    314 Janarthanan T 644 Ramesha 974 Vipin Negi
    315 Jasleen Randhawa 645 Ramji Ray 975 Virkein Dhar
    316 Jatin Sheth 646 Ramona Adhikari 976 Vishakha Chanchani
    317 Javed Malick 647 Ramsharan Joshi 977 Vishnu Nagar
    318 Jawari Mal Parakh 648 Ramya Pothukuchi 978 Vishnu Prabhakar
    319 Jawhar Sircar 649 Rana Khan 979 Vivan Sundaram
    320 Jaya Iyer 650 Ranabir Samaddar 980 Vivek Narayanan
    321 Jaya Rani 651 Ranbir Kaleka 981 Vivek Yadav
    322 Jayant Pawar 652 Randhir Singh 982 Wasi Haider
    323 Jayaprakash Nd 653 Rani Day Burra 983 Winston Dsouza
    324 Jayati Ghosh 654 Ranjan Kumar 984 Yasir Abbasi
    325 Jeet Thayil 655 Ranjani Shankar M 985 Yousuf Saeed
    326 Jeevan Singh 656 Ranjani Shettar 986 Zafar Agha
    327 Jeevan Singh 657 Ranjit Hoskote 987 Zaheer Ali
    328 Jenny Rowena 658 Ranjith Shankaran 988 Zahoor Siddiqui
    329 Jeroo Mulla 659 Rashme Sehgal 989 Zasha Colah
    330 Jerry Pinto 660 Rashmi Sawhney 990 Zoya Hasan

    Read more:
    More of us will speak every day: Another 650 add their names to open letter
    An open letter to our fellow citizens: More of us will speak every day…
    From Karnataka: ನಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿನವರು ಪ್ರತಿದಿನ ಮಾತನಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ…
    From Kerala: ഇനിയും ശബ്ദം ഉയരും…
    Still another 418 endorse the open letter to the PM
    They are scared of questions; and that is exactly what we will do

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