NEW DELHI: As many as 49 celebrities have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over incidents of lynching in the country and demanded strict action against those found responsible for the crime.
Legendary filmmaker Shyam Benegal, film directors Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam, actress Konkona Sen Sharma, singer Shubha Mudgal and historian Ramchandra Guha are among those who have written to the PM Modi.
In their letter dated July 23, the celebrities have said that "exemplary punishment" should be meted out "swiftly and surely" in such cases.
The letter cites a report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which states that there have been at least “840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions”.
They demanded that “lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately”.
It also alleges that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has been turned into “a provocative war cry”, leading to law and order problems on various occasions.
However, reacting to their letter, the government on Wednesday said that there is no factual basis for claiming that ''India is losing the image of being a secular and tolerant nation.''
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said that Prime Minister Modi-led NDA government at the Centre is committed to upholding Constitutional values and rule of law in the country.
This came even as Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday there has been a decline in incidents of communal violence after 2014 when Prime Minister Modi was voted to power at the Centre.
Pointing that the country does not witness curfew-like situations any more, the Minister said that as many as 823 incidents of communal violence took place in 2013 while it came down to 708 in 2018.
When Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue of mob lynching, the Minister countered him saying that there was no set pattern of such incidents. He claimed that incidents of mob lynching had taken place in West Bengal and Kerala as well, which are not Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states.
Ramchandra Guha is a noted historian who has written extensively on environmental, social, political, contemporary and cricket history. He is also a columnist for The Telegraph and Hindustan Times and has been awarded with Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi Award for English Writers.
Shyam Benegal is an acclaimed Indian filmmaker noted for his films Ankur (1973), Nishant (1975), Manthan (1976) and Bhumika (1977). He was part of a new genre, which has now come to be called the "middle cinema" in India.
Konkona Sen Sharma is an actress, writer and director and winner of two National Film Awards and four Filmfare Awards.
Shubha Mudgal is a Hindustani classical singer and composer. Her repertoire includes the genres of Khayal, Thumri and Dadra, as also popular Indian pop music. She has received several awards and accolades for her artistic accomplishments, including the Padma Shri, awarded in 2000.
Gopala Ratnam Subramaniam, commonly known by his screen name Mani Ratnam, is a film director, screenwriter, and producer who predominantly works in Tamil cinema. In 2002, he was felicitated by the Government of India with the Padma Shri, acknowledging his contributions to the cinema. he is known for path-breaking films like Bombay, Roja, Nayakanto name a few.