KOLKATA: There is “no democracy without dissent”, a group of 49 intellectuals have, said in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed concern over the increasing incidents of lynchings and the suppression of criticism. “Dear Prime Minister... The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. We were shocked to learn from the NCRB 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,” said the letter.
They also regretted that “Jai Shri Ram” has been reduced to a “provocative war cry” and many lynchings take place in its name. Stressing that such incidents should be stopped immediately, the letter said, “You have criticised such lynchings in Parliament Mr Prime Minister, but that is not enough! What action has actually been taken against the perpetrators?”
The signatories include historian Ramchandra Guha, film personalities like Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal, Soumitro Chatterjee, Revathy, Anurag Kashyap and Mani Ratnam, vocalist Shubha Mudgal, social activist Binayak Sen, sociologist Ashis Nandy and author Amit Chaudhury, among others. Underscoring the importance of dissent, the letter said “criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising the nation”.