Hindu Mahasabha, 62 celebs slam 49 intellectuals behind "Jai Shree Ram" letter to PM

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: August 1, 2019
Within a week of 49 activists and civil society members writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to express their concerns about the rising cases of lynching and the misuse of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chant for committing hate crimes, members of right-wing Hindutva organisations and 62 celebrities have taken to writing counter letters attacking the original 49. 

letter to PM

In addition to this letter-counter letter battle, a case has been filed against 9 signatories of the July 23 letter, including Aparna Sen, Revathi and Konkona Sen Sharma, in the Bihar court on Saturday. It was filed by an advocate before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate under sections 124A (sedition), 153B (assertions prejudicial to national integration), 290 (public nuisance), 297 (trespass to wound religious feelings) and 504 (intentional insults) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

It may be recalled that on July 23, 49 personalities, including film-makers Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap and Aparna Sen as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal and historian Ramchandra Guha, had expressed concern at the number of "religious identity-based hate crimes" and noted that 'Jai Shri Ram' has become a provocative war cry with many lynchings taking place in the name of the deity.
Now, as per a report in the National Herald, leaders of the Mahasabha have posted 101 letters written in blood to the PM saying “such traitors should be charged with sedition and all their national awards should be withdrawn.” The letters, sent on Tuesday, also urge the PM to take strong action against the 49 eminent personalities who had written to him on lynching of minorities and hate crimes in the country.Ashok Pande, national spokesperson of the Mahasabha, said that the issue of “so-called mob lynchings” of Muslims and Dalits were being perpetrated to defame the country. Pande said this “conspiracy should be unveiled and those spreading the canard of mob lynchings should be put to task.” “Such human rights groups are trying to become the champion of minorities and Dalits but were always silent when Hindus were targeted in Kashmir valley or when terrorists were spilling Hindu blood,” Pande said, adding that such groups were trying to “divide the country.”

Apart from the Hindutva organisation, 62 celebrities from the Bollywood industry, including actor Kangana Ranaut, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification Prasoon Joshi, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri among others have written a letter in response to ‘selective outrage and false narratives.’ The counter letter that went viral on Twitter, read, “49 self-styled guardians and conscience keepers of the nation and of democratic values have once again expressed selective concern and demonstrated a clear and political bias and motive...It is aimed at tarnishing India's international standing and to negatively portray Prime Minister Narendra Modi's untiring efforts to effectuate governance on the foundations of positive nationalism and humanism which is the core of Indianness.”

It further called the July 23 letter ‘an attempt to defame the nation’, saying that, “We do condemn the conspiracy.” The 62 signatories also questioned the silence of the celebs who signed the letter during times “when tribals and the marginalised have become victims of Naxal terror.” Some of the points mentioned in the counter letter which are baseless and propagate fake news are mentioned below:
  1. The letter says that some people were killed for chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram.’ However, there is no backing to this claim. It may be a reference to Mamata Banerjee’s recent controversy over the chanting of this Hindu slogan, however, nobody was killed then.
  2. It also claims that complaints of people being forced to chant the Hindu sermon were “false and concocted.” However, SabrangIndia’s analysis has revealed how ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a weapon to kill and assault the minorities.
  3. The letter also claims that the minorities have been the safest in the Modi era. However, contrary to this claim, the attacks on minorities have increased manifold in the past five years.
  4. The letter also accuses the 49 celebs of being silent when separatists made appeals to divide India with the lingo ‘Tukde Tukde’ being used for them. However, this was ultimately proven to be false.

Thus, most of the points are just an attempt to draw false equivalence between unconnected events, spread fake news and peddle an especially toxic brand of supremacist ideology to worsen the already divisive socio-political climate in the country.
Journalist Arnab Goswami was also not behind in this constant targeting of the celebs since the time the July 23 letter was made public. Filmmaker Aparna Sen, one of the signatories to the July 23 letter, had held a press conference the previous week for the same, which is when Arnab Goswami decided to 'join' in, remotely from his media room. Arnab was seen yelling over the phone while Aparna couldn’t or didn’t hear any of his questions. Similar to the things mentioned in the letter written by 62 celebs, Arnab was asking Aparna where was she when crimes were happening against minorities or when actress Zaria Wasim was targeted by Muslim fanatics. In response to Arnab’s constant bickering, Sen shared a mocking tweet which is as follows:

Imaginary conversation with a journalist:

Journo: Where were u when the jizia tax was imposed on Hindus?
Me: But that was Aurangzeb's time!

Journo: Why were u silent then? Answer me! The nation wants to know!

The entire letter by the 62 celebs may be read here: