A group of eminent intellectuals from across the country came together on Thursday to issue a statement in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The move comes after scores of writers, filmmakers, historians and other intellectuals have condemned the Bharatiya Janata Party government for the rising intolerance in the country. The signatories included Indian Council for Cultural Relations president Lokesh Chandra, Sahitya Akademi winner SL Bhyrappa, professor emeritus at University of Cambridge, Wardha Kapil Kapoor, and 33 others. According to The Times of India, the detailed statement said that at the forefront of the ongoing protests against the Centre now are “the usual pallbearers of Indic civilization – Congressmen of various hues, Marxists, Leninists, even a handful of Maoists.”

The statement added that the protests were by a section of society whose clout is declining after the BJP won at the Centre, and that “failure in the elections is now sought to be avenged by other means; it helps if the media (or sections of it) serve as cheerleaders.” The signatories appealed to people to not be swayed by any false narratives, and said that the protesters had explicitly stated Narendra Modi as their target. They expressed anguish over the lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, after rumours that he had killed a calf, but questioned how the Centre was responsible for the incident, which took place in a state that they said is infamous for violence. They also said that the murders of rationalists MM Kalburgi and Narendra Dabholkar took place in states not under BJP rule at the time.

The signatories called attention to the intellectuals who have been vocal recently, saying that the same people remained silent though justice was denied to victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom and the 2007 Nandigram violence, among other "sins of commission". The statement also said it was an embarrassment to intellectuals that historian Irfan Habib compared the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh to militant outfit Islamic State.