As hundreds of protestors marched in various cities on Sunday evening to seek action against the accused in the Kathua and Unnao rape cases, 49 former civil servants have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, holding him responsible “more than anyone else” for the “terrifying state of affairs” in the country. The letter also pinned blame for the incidents on the Sangh Parivar and its “culture of majoritarian belligerence and aggression,” The Times of India reported.

The retired bureaucrats, who claimed that they had no political affiliation, said the current situation in the country “represented an existential crisis” in which the government’s response would determine whether the country would “overcome the crisis of constitutional values, governance and the ethical order”.

“The bestiality and the barbarity involved in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old child shows the depths of depravity that we have sunk into,” the letter read. “In post-Independence India, this is our darkest hour and we find the response of our government, the leaders of our political parties inadequate and feeble. At this juncture, we see no light at the end of the tunnel and we hang our heads in shame.”

“In both cases, prime minister, it is your party which is in power,” the letter continued. “Given your supremacy within the party and the centralised control you and your party president exercise, you more than anyone else have to be held responsible for this terrifying state of affairs.”

The letter, signed by former coal secretary Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan, former police chiefs Meera Borwankar and Julio Rebeiro, former Foreign Secretary Nareshwar Dayal, former Indian Ambassador to Italy KP Fabian and former health secretary Sujatha Rao among other, also blamed some current bureaucrats for “failing in their duty”.

The group asked the prime minister to apologise to the families of the victims of the Kathua and Unnao incidents. It also demanded that an all-party meeting be held “to deliberate on ways in which the phenomenon of hate crime can be tackled socially, politically and administratively”, IANS reported.

Trial in Kathua rape and murder case to begin

The trial of eight accused in the Kathua rape and murder case will begin on Monday in the sessions court. The chief judicial magistrate of Kathua will hold the trial for the juvenile accused in the case separately, Firstpost reported.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has appointed two public prosecutors in the case, both Sikhs, to ensure “neutrality”.