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‘BJP Using Fear of Rape As Campaign Message’: Women’s Groups to PM

Activists & women’s groups wrote a letter to PM Modi expressing “horror” over alleged hate speech by BJP leaders.

Updated
India
4 min read
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More than 170 activists and women’s groups on Monday, 3 February, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing "horror" over the alleged hate speech made by BJP leaders. The strongly-worded letter also accused BJP leaders of using "fear of rape as a campaign message" during the campaigning ahead of the Delhi polls.

The groups said that statements made by the BJP leaders – urging their followers to inflict violence on women protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register – have created an “atmosphere of violence”.

Prominent signatories of the letter include feminist economist Devaki Jain, activist Laila Tyabji, former Indian Ambassador Madhu Bhaduri, gender rights activist Kamla Bhasin and groups like All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW).

The letter said that it wanted to reminded PM Modi of his constitutional duty to protect all citizens. It called on him, and his party, to fight the elections in a manner that “upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women”.
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‘Fight Election Upholding Constitution’s Dignity, Not Hate’

“Vote for BJP or you will get raped? Is this your message to Delhi’s women? Your party is also exhorting mobs to aim bullets at women and children. Please stop your party from threatening women with violence. Fight the election upholding the dignity of the Constitution,” the letter said.

"Repeated hate speech by election campaigners of the BJP using fear of rape as a campaign message, urging their followers to inflict violence on peaceful women protesting against the CAA-NRC-NPR is being made.”

“What is this kind of communal hate and fear-mongering that you, as a head of government, are encouraging, that seeks to make women of all communities feel more insecure and threatened? Vote for BJP or you will get raped! Is this your election message to Delhi’s women? Is this how low your party has sunk?”
Activists & Women’s Groups in Letter to PM Modi

‘Is BJP Openly Endangering Lives of India’s Women & Children?’

“Is the BJP now openly endangering the lives of India’s women and children? This is what history will record and India will not forgive, Mr Prime Minister,” the letter said, referring to BJP MP Parvesh Verma's statement where he had said, "Lakhs of people gather there (Shaheen Bagh). People of Delhi will have to think and take a decision. They'll enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them.”

The letter said that the nation has been witnessing the direct result of a “violent atmosphere,” which, it said, was created by members of the BJP.

“For the nation saw the direct result of this violent atmosphere created by members of your party, which inspired ‘Ram Bhakt’ Gopal to open fire at innocent students in Jamia on January 30th, and another terrorist weaponised by the hate being spread by your party, fired at the women of Shaheen Bagh on 1 February,” the letter further said.

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Making a reference to the statement made by Union minister Anurag Thakur, where he encouraged a crowd to "shoot the traitors" and the recent comments of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath who said "boli se nahi toh goli se maanenge" (if they don't understand through words, we will make them understand through bullets), the letter said that the "traitors" here were peacefully protesting women.

"When the esteemed Home Minister, Mr Amit Shah asks people to push the EVM button on February 8 with such force that protesters feel the current, is he wishing to electrocute the women?," the groups asked the prime minister.

“We speak to you as women of this country, and the women of Delhi – Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Adivasi and Dalit – who are horrified at the atmosphere of violence against women that members of your party have created merely to try and win an election.”
Activists & Women’s Groups in Letter to PM Modi

The groups also said that they feared a government that directs its security forces to attack peacefully protesting students, elected members who openly threatened ordinary citizens and a police force that stands by and watches as people inspired by "hate-filled rhetoric indulge in acts of violence.”

"Your government may disagree with the reasons for this nationwide uprising against the NPR-NRC-CAA. But peaceful protest is our constitutional right. That is all we are doing,” the letter said.

"Lakhs of Delhi's women are not just part of this movement, they are leading it. Empowered women are on the frontlines. We will not be silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors, when all they are doing is fighting to protect and preserve the Constitution of our country."

Urging the prime minister to speak out against such targeted violence and hate speech, the letter sought immediate action, including under all relevant criminal provisions of the penal code, against "these violence mongering members of the BJP".

“You need to fight the Delhi election in a manner that upholds the dignity of our Constitution and ensures the security of India’s women.”
Activists & Women’s Groups in Letter to PM Modi

Thakur and Verma have both been issued notices by the Election Commission (EC) over the controversial remarks made by them.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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