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‘Award Wapsi’ Gang Trying to Destabilise Govt: BJP on Letter to PM

49 celebrities from various fields have written to PM Modi to intervene on the rising mob lynchings in the country,

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A letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing concern at the number of "religious identity-based hate crimes" in India and signed by 49 celebrities from various fields, has ignited the ‘Urban Naxals’ and ‘award wapsi’ debate again, with BJP leaders and others slamming the authors of the letter.

On 23 July, a group of eminent citizens had said in the letter to PM Modi that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a provocative war cry with many lynchings taking place in its name.

The letter, which also stressed that there is "no democracy without dissent", is signed by 49 celebrities from various fields, including filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Aparna Sen as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal, historian Ramchandra Guha and sociologist Ashis Nandy.

"We, as peace loving and proud Indians, are deeply concerned about a number of tragic events that have been happening in recent times in our beloved country," the open letter to Modi said.

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In a press conference on Wednesday 24 July, filmmaker Aparna Sen condemned lynchings and said the open letter has nothing to do with politics. "The lynchings of minorities is wrong. It is not about party or politics. Our letter has no political colour. We just want him (PM Modi) to intervene."

‘Award Wapsi Gang Active Again’

Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Wednesday said the ‘award wapsi’ gang has become active again to destabilise the Narendra Modi government.

"Where were these people who are raising questions of mob lynching when Kairana (UP) MLA recently asked Muslims not to buy goods from shops of Hindus? Why they remained silent?" Singh, who is in charge of the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, told reporters.

"The award wapsi gang has once again become active to destabilise and defame the Modi government," the minister said, according to PTI.

Responding to the letter, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told PTI that minorities and Dalits are safe in India and criminal incidents should not be communalised. He further said those "yet to recover from" the defeat in the Lok Sabha polls are trying to communalise "criminal incidents".

“We have seen the same thing after 2014 (elections) in the name of ‘award wapsi’, this is just part two of that.”
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Union Minister

West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh described the authors of the letter as "anti-nationals" and alleged that they were acting as "stooges" of the Opposition, PTI reported.

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"These intellectuals who have written a letter to the prime minister are anti-nationals," Ghosh told reporters. "They are actually acting as stooges of Opposition parties who are trying to malign the BJP government."

The Lok Sabha MP said these people would face protest by Bharatiya Janata Party cadres wherever they go. He also accused them of turning a blind eye when saffron party workers were allegedly being "killed" in West Bengal for chanting "Jai Shri Ram".

‘BJP Promoting a Cult of Violence’: Yechury

Accusing the BJP of promoting a "cult of violence", CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Thursday slammed the ruling party leaders for dismissing the concerns expressed in the letter.

"On being shown the truth of our reality today, all that the government does is to try and deny it. This is because forces patronised by the ruling party themselves, patronise the promotion of such a ‘cult of violence,’” Yechury tweeted.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that whatever the signatories have stated was "quite right" and that she had been "saying it for a long.”

Whenever the country is in a problem, whenever there is a need for social enlightenment, these prominent personalities come to the fore and inspire people, Banerjee said.

“I respect them. I think whatever they have said is quite right. Whatever they have said today, I have been saying it for a long time.”
Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, West Bengal

The chief minister said she is a Hindu but that does not mean that she would hate a Christian.

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Very Commendable: Swara Bhasker Lauds Open Letter

Actor Swara Bhasker said it's hard to "turn our face away from the harsh reality" of increasing cases of mob lynching in the country. Praising the efforts of those behind the letter, she said a strong law is needed to deal with the issue.

"Mob lynching has become an epidemic in the country today and I don't think that we can turn our face away from this harsh reality. There's no point in falsifying it," said Swara, according to ANI.

"I believe that it is very commendable that artists, filmmakers, writers in our country are engaged and affected with whatever is happening in the society," Swara added.

Replying to a journalist's query on the political inclinations of those associated with the letter, Bhasker said, "So what if they are inclined. It is not bad. We live in a democracy where every ideology is welcome."

Urban Naxals, Says Vivek Agnihotri

However, vocal filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri said that no one will have to make a list of ‘Urban Naxals’ anymore, since they expose themselves by writing letters to PM Modi.

Chairman of Manipal Global Education Mohandas Pai questioned why the 49 citizens were picking on Hindus.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI)

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Topics:  open letter   PM Modi   Aparna Sen 

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