As many as 49 celebrities from different fields including singer Shubha Mudgal, actor Konkona Sen Sharma and filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam, among others, have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over incidents of lynching in the country. In the letter dated July 23, the celebrities have said that “exemplary punishment” should be meted out “swiftly and surely” in such cases.
“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,” the letter read.
“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.indatabase (October 30, 2018). The Citizen’s Religious Hate-Crime Watch recorded that Muslims, (14 per cent of India’s population) were the victims in 62 per cent of cases, and Christians (2 per cent of the July 23, 2019 population), in 14 per cent of cases. About 90 per cent of these attacks were reported after May 2014, when your government assumed power nationally.”
They added that while Prime Minister Modi has criticised lynching cases in Parliament which is merely “not enough.”
The letter further added: “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 lynching, which are even more heinous? No citizen should have to live in fear in his/her own country.”
They have highlighted that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a “provocative war-cry” in the present day that leads to law and order problems, and “many lynchings take place in its name.”