New Delhi: Personalities from the field of literature have come forward in support of the 49 celebrities who were booked by the Bihar Police for their open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Can this be called an act of sedition? Or is harassment by misusing the courts a ploy to silence citizens’ voices?” read the letter posted on the Indian Cultural Forum’s website on 7 October.
“All of us, as members of the Indian cultural community, as citizens of conscience, condemn such harassment. We do more: we endorse every word of the letter our colleagues wrote to the Prime Minister… This is why more of us will speak every day. Against mob lynching. Against the silencing of people’s voices. Against the misuse of courts to harass citizens,” it added.
As many as 185 people have pledged their support, and have invited others to join their campaign. Among them are historian Romila Thapar, writer K. Satchidanandan, actor Naseeruddin Shah, and author Saba Dewan.
What the July letter by 49 celebrities said
A letter sent to PM Modi in July, signed by personalities including historian Ramachandra Guha, filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen and Anurag Kashyap, and actor Konkona Sen Sharma, had raised concerns over intolerance in India, rising cases of mob lynchings and the need to allow dissent to protect the country’s democracy.
“You have criticised such lynchings in Parliament Mr. Prime Minister, but that is not enough! What action has actually been taken against the perpetrators? We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non-bailable, and that exemplary punishment should be meted out swiftly and surely,” the letter read.
Weeks later Muzaffarpur-based lawyer, Sudhir Kumar Ojha filed an FIR against the 49 celebrities.
Ojha said he had no objection to the letter as such, but “by getting it published in the media, they deliberately tried to tarnish the image of the PM and the country”, he told ThePrint.