By Arun Srivastava
It was the part of the strategic move of the BJP to stifle the voice of secular and nationalist forces that a group of 62 individuals, all members of the saffron party, launched blistering attack on the group of 49 eminent persons of indulging in ‘selective outrage and false narratives’ on mob lynching.
After the 49 celebrities, like Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Aparna Sen, conveyed their view to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the form of a letter, the BJP leadership got scared of the looming threat that it may acquire a major dimension and more celebrities may join the chorus for protecting the character and ethos of the liberal and democratic India. Any such flaring of the issue would have created political embarrassments for Modi who has been ready with many anti-people Bills to place before Parliament for its approval. Obviously, for BJP the best design was to gag these voices.
Titled ‘Against Selective Outrage & False Narratives’, the letter written by 62 individuals charges the 49 celebrities as self-styled guardians and self-proclaimed “conscience keepers of the nation and of democratic values” and charges them of political bias.
What was really shocking was these individuals accused the celebrities of attempting to “foist a FALSE NARRATIVE with the intention of denigrating the democratic ethos and norms of our collective functioning as a nation and people. It also aimed at tarnishing India’s international standing and to negatively portray Modi’s untiring efforts to effectuate governance on the foundations of positive nationalism and humanism which is the core of INDIANNESS”.
These saffron personalities ought to have been aware of the fact that the PM Narendra Modi had condemned lynching. It was something else that he did force his men to be strict. In June he condemned in Parliament the lynching of a 24-year-old man in Jharkhand, and asserted that whether it is Jharkhand, or West Bengal or Kerala, incidents of violence should be treated in the same manner and perpetrators of violence get a lesson that the entire country is one on this issue.
These saffronites should have taken lessons from him and must have refrained from indulging in catering misinformation. How can these worthy intellectuals deny that the slogan of Jai Sri Ram, which has been dear to all the Hindus, was being denigrated by the saffron vigilantes and today has become a provocative ‘war-cry’. It is a matter of shame that the name of Ram, the supreme deity of Hindus, was being used to commit the heinous crime of killing innocent persons. I would not hesitate to say that these vigilantes were disparaging the name of Lord Ram under a well-planned conspiracy.
One feels ashamed and prefers to put his head down at these 62 individuals questioning the personal credibility of the 49 celebrities. Most of the 62 persons have been following in the footsteps of these celebrities to attain eminence. In their open letter they accused them of keeping silent when tribals and the marginalised have become victims of Naxal terror. One can only suggest that instead of speaking the language of Goebbels these people must read the history of India and be rationale.
The most glaring insult perpetrated to the celebrities by these 62 individuals was their motif to describe them as anti-Indians. Labelling Shyam Benegal, Adoor and Aparna Sen as dishonest and opportunist is nothing but smearing the face of the Indian film industry and demeaning the doyens of the film industry.
It is beyond comprehension how could these people shut their eyes to the brute reality of lynching of the innocent people. During the last five years more than two dozen persons have been killed by vigilantes. It is really shocking that for getting identified with the power and accrue benefit out of it, these individuals have been indulging in such reckless play of insulting the celebrities. Their sharing the concern with Modi cannot at all be described as their move to try and break India apart. Do they want the people to be passive spectators? Their move is nothing but an attempt to keep the king happy by furnishing wrong information and pledging their loyalty. No doubt “the need of the hour is to play a constructive role, not take advantage of the vulnerabilities of your own people and your own system.”
The intolerance of the BJP got manifested in the remark of a BJP leader towards acclaimed filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan to “go to the Moon” for complaining against the misuse of the “Jai Shri Ram” chant. In his response Adoor had rightly observed: “BJP leaders want me to go to the Moon because Pakistan must be filled up by now.”
Adoor explained: “The BJP leader is saying that I insulted Lord Ram. Only a crooked mind can come up with such an interpretation. None of us has criticised anyone or said anything against the government. There is no need to see any of us as enemies.”
Actually the 49 celebrities had not written thing that could be interpreted as anti-India. The letter simply read: “You have criticised such lynchings in Parliament Mr Prime Minister, but that is not enough… We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non-bailable…” They also mentioned: “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.”
Their request to Modi — “The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. We were shocked to learn from the NCRB 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” — is certainly not an anti national act. It’s a plea for making peace. (IPA Service)