We cannot ignore the fact that a letter written by 49 celebrities, mostly representing the film industry, to the prime minister about mob lynching, appears to have created a huge stir.
Even the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, has stepped into the fray, noting a “conspiracy” to defame the Hindus by the lynch mobs.
The letter had referred to incidents of individuals being waylaid and forced to chant the “war cry”, Jai Shri Ram, if they did not want to be beaten up, often to death.
Before Bhagwat’s statement, there was a rebuttal (trumpeted by right wing media channels such as Republic TV) signed by more than 60 pro-Narendra Modi film personalities, who condemned the “selective outrage” of the 49.
The ‘selective outrage’ in the view of these 60 ‘defenders of Modi’ film wallahs was the ‘silence over the acts of atrocities committed by non-BJP groups’, and once again the so-called ‘open letter’ by the 60 tried to whitewash the present day lynching with the supposed silence over to the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from the valley that was several decades ago.
The criticism of the pro-BJP group has been accompanied by the customary depiction of the 49 as anti-nationals in league with the ubiquitous “tukde tukde gang” of “urban Naxals” who want to break the country into pieces.
The 60 pro-Modi celebrities who signed the letter, may not realize it, instead of defending Modi they seem to be saying that Prime Minister Modi should do nothing about the lynching of people by the so-called Hindutva Gangs. While the 49 appealed to the PM to take some firm action against lynching, the letter seems a desperate act to ‘defend’ the PM’s lack of response, by insinuating that lawlessness and lynching are not as bad as Pandits leaving the Kashmir valley! Strange argument.
A possible reason for the outrage in ‘saffron’ political circles is the fear that the letter will fuel more reports in the Western media about the deteriorating communal situation in India. We have already reado critical comments in publications like the Time and The Economist magazines.
Related to this fear is the apprehension that the unfavourable comments of the distinguished film personalities as well as historians will deter foreign industries from investing in India. As it is, the economic scene isn’t good, no matter how much the present government tries to whitewash it. One of the government’s advisors on economic policy has been speaking of a “silent fiscal crisis” afflicting the country.
Already, a newspaper has reported that as many as 23,000 millionaires have left India since the Modi government’s assumption of power in 2014, with India now standing third in the number of emigrants behind China and Russia. Last year, 5,000 of the “super rich” left India.
This is not a good advertisement for the present Indian government, which is now considering imposing a ‘surcharge’ on this group. For all the claims, therefore, about India’s rapid growth taking it towards a $ 5 trillion economy, the scene is not as bright as the government would like to portray.
Anirban Dutta Ray, Laitumkhrah, Shillong, Meghalaya