Opposition leaders from 13 political parties issued a joint statement on Saturday condemning Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his silence on the rise in communal violence in the country.

“We are shocked at the silence of the prime minister, who has failed to speak against the words and actions of those who propagate bigotry and those who, by their words and actions, incite and provoke our society,” they noted.

The Opposition leaders alleged that Modi’s silence is testimony to the fact that “private armed mobs enjoy the luxury of official patronage”.

The statement came as incidents of targeted violence and hate speech against Muslims have increased in the country.

“We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress, faith, festivals and language are being deliberately used by sections of the ruling establishment to polarize our society.,” said the statement.

The leaders also condemned the rising cases of communal violence across several states. Two people were killed and many injured as violence broke out in at least five states of the country on Sunday during processions held on the occasion of the Hindu festival Ram Navami.

“We are deeply concerned, as reports indicate that there is a sinister pattern in the areas where these incidents have occurred,” said the statement. “Incendiary hate speeches preceded the aggressive armed religious processions unleashing communal violence.”

The leaders said that they were pained by how social media and audio-visual platforms were being misused with official patronage to spread hatred and prejudice. They called upon citizens to foil the “sinister objective of those who wish to sharpen communal polarization”.

The letter was signed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren.

National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Rashtriya Janata Dal MLA Tejashwi Yadav, Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja, Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas, Revolutionary Socialist Party General Secretary Manoj Bhattacharya, Indian Union Muslim League General Secretary PK Kunhalikutty and Communist Party of India (ML) Liberation General Secretary Dipanker Bhattacharya were also among the signatories.