On Wednesday around 49 individuals linked to some industries mainly the media and cinema came out and wrote a letter addressed to Prime Minister Modi in a bid to draw his attention to “rising incidents of mob lynching”; in the letter this group of 49 individuals also declared Hindu religious chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ to be a “ provocative war cry”. This list of 49 individuals included Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Aparana Sen, Ram Chandra Guha and people like Binayak Sen who has been convicted on serious charge of sedition and helping Maoists; he was charged under section 124A of Indian Penal Code(IPC) (sedition) and 120-B Indian Penal Code (conspiracy) for which he was awarded life term.
The letter which quoted NCRB data read, “254 religious identity-based hate crimes were reported between October 29, 2018 and January 1, 2009, where 91 persons were killed and 579 injured. The Citizen’s Religious Hate Crime watch recorded that Muslims, (14% of population) were the victims in 62% of cases, and Christians in 14% of cases.”
While the nation is already wary of similar subversive tactics used by these 49 individuals, condemnations from all quarters have been flowing against this seemingly politically motivated attempt. The letter which selectively chooses criminal incidents against selective communities and tries to paint them in communal colors is not the first but comes in a series of similar attempts.
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came out and supported these individuals and said, “Everyone in this country knows what is going on. I respect all the intellectuals; I feel that whatever they have written is a genuine grievance by the people.”
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, on 49 famous personalities writing an open letter to the PM: Everyone in this country knows what is going on. I respect all the intellectuals, I feel that whatever they have written is a genuine grievance by the people. pic.twitter.com/yNChU2Kuxn
— ANI (@ANI) July 24, 2019
Nonetheless, these comments coming from Mamata Banerjee will surely raise eyebrows, as her deafening silence on TMC–led political murders and intolerance over “Jai Shree Ram“ had done earlier. Mamata Banerjee promptly coming out in support of these 49 individuals surely reeks of political motivations also raises questions of a lingering conspiracy, as the letter which is critical of the BJP led central government suits her agenda to save political ground from the saffron party which has been gaining fast in the green field state.
This general election saw the TMC losing massive political ground to the BJP. The saffron party, given clear strategy and groundwork, has been successful in making huge political inroads in the state, with its vote percentage jumping from a mere 17% in 2014 to more than 40% in 2019 general elections. Jump in the total seats won by the BJP in West Bengal, from 2 in 2014 general elections to 18 in the 2019 general elections also followed this spike in vote percentage.
The timing of this letter coming from various personalities related to the cinema industry also adds to the questions as only recently several movie and TV stars joined the BJP in presence of its West Bengal unit head Dilip Ghosh and senior functionary Mukul Roy. The list included Parno Mittra, Rishi Kaushik, Kanchana Moitra, Rupanjana Mitra and Biswajit Ganguly and others who took the political leap.
Delhi: 12 Bengali film & television actors, joined BJP in presence of party leaders Mukul Roy & Dilip Ghosh, earlier today. pic.twitter.com/iqP19smHnO
— ANI (@ANI) July 18, 2019
This move by the BJP to counter TMC’s own star power which includes names like Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty surely did not go down well with WB CM and now this letter by some cinema professionals is clearly being used by Mamata Banerjee to churn political steam for her party. Mamata Banerjee had for long been propagating the same “minorities in danger” narrative to push her political ambitions.
The letters declaring the Hindu chant “Jai Shree Ram” as a “war cry” is also in line with Mamata’s anti-Hindu stance. Earlier in an incident in West Bengal few individuals were detained for chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’ as Mamata Banerjee was passing with her convoy. A video of the event has surfaced which showed Mamata Banerjee stopping her convoy and confronting a few individuals who were chanting Jai Shree Ram as she was moving from one political event in Kharagpur to another. Bengal Police playing at the whims of TMC government had detained three individuals in Ghatal where the whole sequence of events unfolded.
— Rahul Roy (@RahulRo64290353) May 5, 2019
BJP leader from Bengal, Locket Chatterjee has also called out these attempts which reek of ulterior motives. While speaking to Zee 24 Ghanta, the MP from Hooghly asked, “Why don’t intellectuals open their mouth when those who chant Jai Shree Ram are killed?” Locket Chatterjee had earlier also raised the issue in Lok Sabha and said, “Shayama Prasad Mookerjee’s Bengal is burning. Whoever is chanting Jai Shri Ram, TMC goons are killing them.”
Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy also called out those who had written letters and said, “Great fun grinning in front of cameras, mouthing ‘secular’ platitudes, huh! Their sheer insincerity is proved by the fact that none of them have ever breathed a word against ‘Allahu Akbar’, a war cry that has claimed a thousand times more casualties than Jai Shri Ram.”