Fourteen eminent personalities on Monday joined the 62 signatories who had expressed their disagreement with another group of intellectuals who had urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop mob lynchings in the country, The Indian Express reported.
They strongly condemned the statement issued by a group of filmmakers, activists and academics last week. They had said that the slogan “Jai Shri Ram” had become a “provocative war cry” and the reason for a number of lynchings in the country.
In the counter-statement issued, the 14 signatories said that such statements cause an adverse effect on the harmonious atmosphere of the country and asked the 49 personalities to come out of their negative mentality. They said it will increase the division and prejudices in the society, and hurt the unity in the country that will eventually help some foreign elements.
Seven of these 14 signatories are from Gujarat. They are Padma Shri historian Vishnu Pandya, former Vice Chancellors of Saurashtra University Kamlesh Joshipura and Kalpak Trivedi, Padma Shri cancer surgeon Devendra Patel, senior journalist Tarun Dattani, media academic Shirish Kashikar and noted danseuse Smita Shastri.
The other seven people who issued the counter statement are – gastroenterologist Chandrashekhar from Chennai, former Vice Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University ADN Bajpai, Vice Chancellor of Vinayak Mission University VR Rajendran, gynaecologist from Varanasi Shipra Dhar, gastroenterologist from Varanasi Hemant Gupta, Allahabad High Court lawyer Rajendra Pande and senior lawyer at Delhi High Court RP Luthra.
Vishnu Pandya confirmed that they have issued the statement, and said that they may do some meeting of like-minded people in future, The Indian Express reported.
“The prime minister has repeatedly expressed concern to ensure that the incidents of mob lynchings do not occur,” the statement read. “The Central Government has also specially asked state governments to make sure that such incidents do not happen. In such a situation, we clearly believe that it is necessary that intellectuals and artistes come out of negative mentality.”
It said the letter on mob lynchings and intolerance was “biased, intentionally lacking in facts and delivered only to appease a particular section of the society”. The signatories said that people who make statements on mob lynchings have got befitting reply from the people of the country in the form of a massive electoral mandate for Modi.
“It is natural that people are at the centre of democracy,” the statement said. “Having a completely biased mentality, these intellectual friends, instead of creating an atmosphere of social harmony, are trying to vitiate the constructive and socially passionate atmosphere prevailing in the country by keeping aside wholesome and true facts, which no awakened citizen can tolerate.”
The statement said they not only disagree but also strongly condemned such statements while supporting the current government’s policy of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.
The 62 personalities who wrote a counter-statement two days ago also alleged that the signatories to the letter were guilty of “selective outrage and false narrative”. These personalities include actor Kangana Ranaut, lyricist Prasoon Joshi, dancer and MP Sonal Mansingh, and filmmakers Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri.