Days after an FIR for sedition was filed against nearly 50 celebrities over a letter to the PM against lynchings, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, 8 October, urging him to look into the rights granted under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.
Citing the FIR filed in Muzaffarnagar, Bihar, against filmmakers Aparna Sen, Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam, historian Ramchandra Guha and others, Tharoor in his letter, which he posted on Twitter, wrote, “These citizens did the right thing in bringing it to your notice.”
“As citizens of India we hope that every one of us can fearlessly bring to your notice issues of national importance, so that you can take the lead to address them,” he added.
Don't Let ‘Mann Ki Baat’ Become ‘Maun Ki Baat’
Tharoor added that he hopes PM Modi will not let the expression of Mann Ki Baat of well-meaning citizens of the country culminate into Maun Ki Baat.
Pointing out the contents in the letter written by the citizens on 23 July this year, he reiterated, “There is no democracy without dissent.”
He stated that if as a country we are blind to the problems of the citizens, then we risk becoming an authoritarian regime in contrast to the values of our Constitution.
Remembering Mahatma Gandhi and his 150th birth anniversary that was observed on 2 October this year, Tharoor drew an analogy from history saying that had it not been for a few dissenting voices, “our history as an independent nation would have been different.”
Is This the 'Naya Bharat'?
The Thiruvananthapuram MP from Lok Sabha asked since when did writing to the Prime Minister of the country, “become a trigger for an FIR?”
“Is this the ‘Naya Bharat’ you wish to create one where citizens shall not be heard and their concerns not addressed? Is this the ‘Naya Bharat’ that you envision one where all parties and individuals disagreeing with the ruling majority will be outlawed and treated as enemies of the state?”Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP
Tharoor in the end, pointed out the Supreme Court's 2018 order wherein it upheld the right of citizens to dissent, being the 'safety valve of democracy.'
Before Tharoor, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi had also reacted to the FIR against celebrities saying, “Anyone who says anything against the Prime Minister or government is put in jail.”
Forty-nine intellectuals, artists, and filmmakers had written to PM Modi to express their concern over the growing incidents of mob lynchings in the country, pointing out to the alleged weaponisation of Jai Shri Ram slogan in the recent times.