A group of veteran journalists on Wednesday urged the country’s institutions to uphold their constitutional mandate in the wake of open calls for attacks on religious minorities, especially Muslims.

Twenty-eight journalists expressed their concerns about a “dangerous hysteria” that is being created in the country to push the narrative that “Hinduism [is] in danger” and portray Muslim citizens as a threat.

“The concerted amplification of hatred has been growing over the past years and months, as has the attendant advocacy of violence,” the journalists noted. “These calls for violence – which have been widely reported in the media – have been met with a cold and calculated silence from the country’s top leaders.”

The signatories of the appeal include N Ram, former editor-in-chief of The Hindu, senior journalist Mrinal Pande; Editor of The Telegraph R Rajagopal, Founder Editor of The Wire Siddharth Vardarajan, Executive Editor of Caravan Vinod Jose, Executive Editor of The Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin and Teesta Setalvad, the co-editor of Sabrang India.

The journalists referred to the recent controversies such as the shouting of anti-Muslim slogans during the screening of the movie The Kashmir Files, the harassment of Muslim women across the country over the hijab ban in Karnataka, targeting of Muslim women through “online auctions” and the dharm sansad in Haridwar, where Hindutva supremacists called for genocide against Muslims.

“Against this backdrop, the president of India, the chief justices and other judges of the Supreme Court of India and the various High Courts, the Election Commission of India, and other constitutionally provisioned and statutory bodies are constitutionally obliged to ensure that these calls for violence do not translate into something unimaginably worse,” the 28 signatories wrote.

The journalists said that sections of media have also to turn themselves into “conduits of hate speech” and called upon media bodies such as the Press Council of India and the News Broadcasters and Digital Association and others to respond urgently to the crisis at hand.

“India today stands at a dangerous place, with the founding values of our secular, democratic, and republican Constitution coming under flagrant assault from prejudiced ideas, acts of prejudice, discrimination, and violent incidents, all planned and orchestrated as part of an anti-constitutional political project,” the journalists wrote.

On the recently held Assembly polls in five states, the journalists said that the election campaigns during February and March saw repeated appeals to “divisive hatred and the stigmatising of Muslims and other minorities”.

The journalists alleged that “star” campaigners of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party “unashamedly” broke laws to seek votes in the name of religion during election campaigns.

“The Election Commission of India, which is statutorily bound to ensure that such practices do not corrode the integrity of elections, has not shown the required autonomy and independence from the political executive to act,” they alleged.