In a fresh letter written on October 7, the group asked how writing an open letter to PM amounts to an act of “sedition”.
Mumbai| The Modi govt is being heavily criticised for not speaking out against the FIR on 49 celebrities for writing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Days after the FIR was registered, more than 100 artists from the field of history, culture, art have come forward in support of the celebrities against whom the FIR was lodged. The 180 celebrities backing the former have said that “more of us will speak every day.”
The 180 celebrities included veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, cinematographer Anand Pradhan, historian Romila Thapar and activist Harsh Mander. The group has condemned the FIR against the signatories of the open letter to PM Modi. In a fresh letter written on October 7, the group asked how writing an open letter to PM amounts to an act of “sedition”.
The letter said that an FIR was lodged against forty-nine of their colleagues in the cultural community 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,” The letter read. It added, “Can this be called an act of sedition? Or is harassment by misusing the courts a ploy to silence citizens’ voices?”
The signatories also include academician Ira Bhaskar, filmmaker-activist Saba Dewan, poet Jeet Thayil, author Shamsul Islam, musician TM Krishna and writers Ashok Vajpeyi and Jerry Pinto. They promised that they will continue to speak up against silencing of “people’s voices”. They also endorsed “every word of the letter our colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister”.
FIR against 49 celebrities:
A case was filed in Muzaffarpur on Thursday against 49 eminent people who wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the increasing incidents of mob lynching. It includes the names of signatories of the letter including Ramchandra Guha, Mani Ratnam and Aparna Sen. The case was registered following the order of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Suryakant Tiwari on a petition filed 2 months ago on behalf of local lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha.
Ojha said that CJM accepted my petition on 20 August. An FIR was lodged at Sadar Police Station on 3 October. The 49 celebrities who signed in an open letter to Modi have been accused that they tarnished the image of the country and promoted the separatist tendency. They are also accused of underestimating the “impressive work” of Prime Minister Modi.
According to the police, a case has been registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) like hurting religious sentiments, treason, disturbing the peace have been imposed.
“Jai Sri Ram a war cry” : 49 celebrities in letter
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 49 celebrities had written raising concern over rising incidents of mob lynching and religious hate crimes. In the letter, the 49 celebrities have written that ‘Jai Shri Ram” has become a provocative war cry that leads to law and order problem and many lynchings take place in its name. The letter further adds that there is no democracy without dissent. “People shouldn’t be branded as ‘anti-nationals’ or ‘Urban-Naxals’ and incarcerated because of dissents with the government,” it stated.
‘Criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising the nation, anti-government stands could not be equated with anti-national sentiments’ it added.
90% hate crimes after May 2014
Raising concern over the religious hate crimes, the celebs wrote, “254 religious identities-based hate crimes were reported between January 1, 2009, and October 29, 2018, where 91 were killed and 579 were injured”.” About 90 per cent of the hate crimes were reported after May 2019 when your government assumed power nationally,” it added.”