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49 celebrities charged with sedition in India for voicing against lynching of Muslims

NEW DELHI, Oct 08 (WNP): The forty nine celebrities are charged with sedition for writing a letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the mob lynching of Muslims.

The first information reports (FIRs) have been lodged against these vocals in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.

Almost 185 members of Indian cultural community have endorsed the open letter to PM Modi including actor Naseeruddin Shah, dancer Mallika Sarabhai, authors Ashok Vajpeyi, Nayantara Sahgal and Shashi Deshpande, historian Romila Thapar, singer TM Krishna, and artist Vivan Sundaram.

They are of the view that their colleagues have done nothing wrong as they performed their duty being respected members of civil society.

“All of us, as members of the Indian cultural community, as citizens of conscience, condemn such harassment,” they said adding Indian government is misusing courts as ploy to silence citizens’ voices.

They urged cultural, academic and legal communities to endorse the letter to PM Modi so that “more of us will speak every day against mob lynching, against the silencing of people’s voices and against the misuse of courts to harass citizens.”

These are the names of the members of Indian cultural community who have endorsed the letter to PM Modi; A Mangai, Ira Bhaskar, Rajan Gurukkal, Aarti Sethi, J Devika, Rajashri Dasgupta, Abha Dev Habib, Javed Malick, Rajashri Dasgupta, Rajendra Chenni, Abhishek Kaicker, Jawari Mal Parakh, Rajendra Sharma, Abhishek Majumdar, Jeet Thayil, Rajesh Joshi, Achin Vanaik, Jerry Pinto, Ranbir Kaleka, Achyutanand Mishra, Jyothi A, Ranjit Hoskote, Ajitha GS, Jyoti Punwani, Ravikant, Akeel Bilgrami, K Satchidanandan, Rekha Awasthi, Amit Bhaduri, K Srilata, Renu Ramanath, Ammu Joseph, Karthik Venkatesh, Ritu Menon, Amrita Pande, Kavery Nambisan, Romila Thapar, Anand Pradhan, KG Sankara Pillai, Ruchi Chaturvedi, Anand Teltumbde, KP Fabian, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Ananya Parikh, KP Jayasankar, S Raghunandana, Ania Loomba, KP Ramanunni, Saba Dewan, Anil Janvijay, Krishnan Unni P, Saba Hasan, Anitha Thampi, KS Parthasarathy, Sabeena Gadihoke, Anjali Monteiro, Kunal Sen, Saleem Peeradina, Arun Dev, Leela Jacinto, Salil Chaturvedi, Arundhati Dhuru, MA Baby, Salim Yusufji, Arundhati Ghosh, Madhu Bhaduri, Sandeep Pandey, Arunima Sehgal, Madhusree Dutta, Sandhya Taksale, Ashok Bhaumik, Mallika Sarabhai, Sanjeev Kumar, Ashok Vajpeyi, Mangad Rathnakaran, Saumya Chakrabarti, Ashutosh Kumar, Mangalesh Dabral, Savithri Rajeevan, Atamjit Singh, Manishi Jani, SG Vasudev, Ayesha Kidwai, Maria Couto, Shafey Kidwai, B Rajeevan, Maya Rao, Shamsul Islam, Badri Raina, Merlin Moli, Shamya Dasgupta, Bajrang Bihari, MMP Singh, Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, Bali singh, Moinak Biswas, Shashi Deshpande, Balvant Kaur, Moloyashree Hashmi, Sherna Dastur, Bharat Tiwari, Moolchandra Gautam, Shoma A Chatterjji, Bhasha Singh, MP Pratheesh, Siddharth, Bodhisatv, Mridula Garg, Sonia Jabbar, BRP Bhaskar, Mridula Koshy, Sreyashi Dastidar, Chaman Lal, MV Narayanan, Subhasini Ali, Chanchal Chauhan, Naina Dayal, Subhasis Bandyopadhyay, Chandrakant Patil, Nancy Adajania, Subodh Varma, Civic Chandran, Nandita Narain, Sudeshna Sengupta, CK Meena, Naseeruddin Shah, Sudhanva Deshpande, Damodar Mauzo, Natasha Badhwar, Sudhir Chandra, Devaki Khanna, Nayantara Sahgal, Sumangala Damodaran, Devendra Choube, Neelan Premji, Sunil P Elayidom, Dilip Borkar, Neelima Sharma, Svati Joshi, EV Ramakrishnan, Neeraj Malik, Syantani Chatterjee, Faisal Khan, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Syeda Hameed, Gauhar Raza, Nilanjana Bhowmick, TM Krishna, Gayatri Spivak, NP Chekkutty, Udaya Kumar, Geeta Kapur, NS Madhavan, Vaasanthi Sundaram, Geetanjali Shree, Nupur Asher, Valay Singh, Girdhar Rathi, Pamela Philipose, Venkitesh Ramakrishnan, Gita Jayaraj, PK Parakkadavu, Vibha Maurya, Githa Hariharan, PK Pokker, Vijay Prashad, Gyan Prakash, PN Gopikrishnan, Vijaya Venkataraman, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Poile Sengupta, Vishnu Nagar, Harsh Mander, Prabir Purkayastha, Vivan Sundaram, Hemlata Mahishwar, Pradeep Chakraverti, Vivek Narayanan, Himanjali Sankar, Pramod Ranjan, Yousuf Saeed, Hiralal Rajasthani, Purushottam Agrawal, Zoya Hasan, Ina Puri and Rahman Abbas.

This is text of the open letter written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 23 this year;

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.

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