In a joint appeal to the public to maintain peace and harmony amid violent clashes across several states, 13 Opposition leaders on Saturday, 16 April, expressed "shock" at the silence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that his silence on the communal violence proved that the alleged perpetrators enjoyed the patronage of the ruling government.
"We are shocked at the silence of the Prime Minister, who has failed to speak against the words and actions of those who propagate bigotry and those who, by their words and actions, incite and provoke our society. This silence is an eloquent testimony to the fact that such private armed mobs enjoy the luxury of official patronage," the joint appeal, signed by the leaders of opposition parties, stated.
The letter comes amid a spate of communal violence in the country, especially during the occasion of Ram Navami on 10 April, when clashes were witnessed in several states.
It has been signed by the leaders of the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) , Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Communist Party of India (Marxist), National Conference (NC), and the Rashtriya Janata Dal among others.
The letter, however, did not include the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Shiv Sena, or the Samajwadi Party.
'Issues of Food, Dress, Festivals Misused For Polarisation'
"We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress, faith, festivals, and language are being deliberately used by sections of the ruling establishment to polarise our society," the letter further said.
It also called for joint efforts in strengthening the bonds of communal harmony, that have "enriched India for centuries".
It also reiterated their commitment to combat and confront the "poisonous ideologies which are attempting to entrench divisiveness" in our society.
The letter also slammed the alleged hate speeches given by leaders against minority communities on the occasion of Ram Navami. "Incendiary hate speeches preceded the aggressive armed religious processions unleashing communal violence."
The letter concluded with an appeal to all sections of society to maintain peace and "foil the sinister objective of those who wish to sharpen communal polarisation," adding that the 13 Opposition parties that wrote the letter were calling upon all their party units across the country to independently and jointly work for maintaining peace and harmony.