Three days after a group of former civil servants wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for an end to the “politics of hate” in the country, another group of former judges and bureaucrats on Saturday alleged that the exercise was “anti-Modi” and meant to grab international attention, The Indian Express reported.

“This is a way for them to release their frustration that public opinion remains solidly behind Prime Minister Modi as recent state elections have shown,” the signatories of the letter wrote against their peers. “Their anger and anguish is not only empty virtue-signalling, they are actually fueling the politics of hate that they seek to combat by attempting to engineer hate against the present government.”

Saturday’s letter was signed by eight former judges, 97 former bureaucrats and 92 retired officers of the armed forces, according to The Indian Express.

Signatories of the letter include former Sikkim High Court Chief Justice Permod Kohli, former foreign secretaries Kanwal Sibal and Shashank, former Research and Analysis Wing chief Sanjeev Tripathi (who had joined the Bhartiya Janata Party in 2014), former Maharashtra Director General of Police Praveen Dixit, former Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi, among others.

In the letter, the retired officials said their counterparts should not give ideological cover to an “anti-national outlook” as well as religious and left-wing extremism, The Hindu reported.

“Their real intention is to foster a counter-narrative against the premeditated attacks on peaceful processions during Hindu festivals, be it in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat or New Delhi,” the group alleged.

Hindus and Muslims clashed in several Indian states between April 10 and April 16. Two persons were killed and several others have been injured.

After the communal clashes, the Bharatiya Janata Party started “bulldozer drives” in several states to raze the structures it claims are illegal. The structures that are razed most often belong to Muslims.

In Saturday’s letter, the group claimed that recent controversies about the ban on wearing the hijab in educational institutes in Karnataka and campaign to ban halal-certified products in the state was the work of “vested interests” that wanted to keep alive the narrative of “Muslim persecution” and “Hindu majoritarianism and Hindu nationalism” under the BJP government.

“Such a narrative gets recognition and encouragement from international lobbies that want to halt India’s progress,” it said. “The so-called intellectuals, the same set of retired civil servants and their backed international lobbies seek to capitalise on this narrative to create political and social fissures in India and weaken the country from within on the pretext that they are serving some higher constitutional cause when they are serving their own egos.”

The first letter

On April 26, the first group of former civil servants, under the banner of Constitutional Conduct Group, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that anti-conversion laws, ban on beef, demolition drives, and uniform dress in educational institutions are being used to “strike fear” among members of the minority communities.

The letter was signed by 108 former civil servants, including Harsh Mander, Najeeb Jung, Julio Ribeiro, AS Dulat, KP Fabian, Meena Gupta and Tirlochan Singh.

“We are witnessing a frenzy of hate-filled destruction in the country where at the sacrificial altar are not just Muslims and members of the other minority communities but the Constitution itself,” the signatories had said.

While it was not clear if the political leadership was directly involved in creating a communal frenzy, it was evident that the administration was enabling fringe groups to operate without fear, they added.

The former civil servants had said that the politics to assert the Hindutva identity and tactics such as creating a divide between communities has been going on for decades and has become the new normal in the last few years.

They had urged the prime minister to rise above partisan politics and call for an end to the politics of hate that the state governments under the BJP control were “assiduously practising”.