On Friday, a note by designer Kunal Merchant declining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer to design a table for him was widely shared on social media. Merchant had cited fundamental opposition to the “politics and the policies” of the Bharatiya Janata Party in response to an email on Tuesday purportedly sent to him by an official named Vivek Kumar, who said he was “private secretary to PM”.

On his his Instagram account on Friday, Merchant posted screenshots of his reply on Thursday asking the Prime Minister’s Office to find another designer for the desk. The designed wrote that he did not want to “have anything to do with, nor contribute to this regime lest history associates me with your racism fascism, reductive and binary thinking as well as your thuggery.”

However, Friday evening, the Twitter handle of the Delhi Police commissioner said that a complaint had been received “regarding forgery, impersonation and identity fraud of an office bearer at the Prime Minister’s Office”.

He added, “Matter is under investigation.”

Hateful India

In this letter, Merchant wrote that the Modi government was promoting a “prejudiced, hateful, exclusive and racist” version of India whereas the version he wants to promote is “secular, plural, inclusive, tolerant”.

He said that with 20% of citizens living below the poverty line and 22% of Muslims living in “marginalised conditions” created by the “government and its policies”, it would be immoral and unethical to make “a desk for the head of our government on which laws and policies will be signed to further this agenda of segregation and deprivation of minorities”.

“Please remember that history treats the supporters, suppliers and propagators of Nazis as Nazis themselves,” Merchant wrote.

“Your politics seems to say that there is Hatred (sic) within me and I know there is hatred within you, let’s get together and hate each other,” he wrote.

Contributing to the regime by building a table for the Prime Minister’s Office would be a “disservice to my friends, family and staff who come from marginalised backgrounds, are minorities, are part of the LGBTQ community or are Dalits and schedule casts (sic)”, Merchant said, adding that this would also reduce his “Karmic force in the universe”.

Merchant also said that he was Gandhian who believed in the ideas of “ahimsa” or non-violence and “social change through civil disobedience”.

Merchant could not be reached for a comment.