Over 1,200 users have signed an online petition by academic Arunima G, urging voters and the Opposition to fight the “immense dangers” of the “saffron agenda” and protect India from a “physically and intellectually violent” future. More than 330 of the signatories are academics from several top universities.

The five years of the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government have marked “one of the most dangerous periods in Indian history” and a “frightening growth of Hindutva power”, the Jawaharlal Nehru University professor said in her petition. The petition was created a month ago. Elections to choose the next government will start on Thursday.

The petition said it is “amply clear that the ordinary Indian citizen is both horrified by what has been happening in the country, and is completely opposed to the dangers that Narendra Modi and the BJP present to the future of the country”.

“We have witnessed a vicious campaign that has undertaken myriad forms of saffronisation, and has affected every aspect of Indian life, ranging from political freedom and liberty, the economy, education, culture, health, environment, and just the safety of large majorities of Indians,” said the petition.

The period has “normalised terrorising and lynching Muslims, and other religious minorities; attacks on Dalits and Adivasis; heightened conditions of violence against women; other than a concerted effort to undo secular traditions of education at the school, college and university levels”, said the petition.

“These five years have also produced some extraordinary forms of resistance – by farmers, workers, Dalit, adivasi, and women’s organisations, to students, teachers, artistes, lawyers, and democratic rights groups, all over the country, demanding justice, safety and basic human rights that have been steadily eroded in this period,” it added.

The petition said that institutions of education and learning at every level are under attack, which is affecting funding, hiring, academic growth and development and curricular structures.

“We urge all Opposition parties, and citizens, of the country to come together to fight the immense dangers that the BJP’s, and Modi’s, saffron agenda presents to us all, and pledge their commitment to India’s Constitutional values,” the petition said. “This can be the only way to safeguard Indians from a future that is both physically and intellectually violent.”

On Monday, over 100 visual artists had issued a joint statement appealing to Indians not to re-elect the Bharatiya Janata Party. They had said the 2019 polls are a make-or-break election.