Sixty-two celebrities, including actress Kangana Ranaut and writer-lyricist Prasoon Joshi, on Friday came out with a counter open letter slamming an earlier open letter submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by 49 film personalities, which expressed concern over the growing number of lynchings across India.
The counter open letter questioned the selective outrage and false narratives that the earlier letter allegedly propagates.
The 62 personalities include Sonal Mansingh, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Madhur Bhandarkar, Vivek Agnihotri, Ashoke Pandit, Pallavi Joshi, Manoj Joshi and Biswajit Chatterjee. Their letter starts with subject: "Against selective outrage and false narratives".
"An open letter, which has been published on July 23, 2019 and addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has astonished us. Forty-nine self-styled guardians and conscience keepers of the nation and of democratic values have once again expressed selective concern and demonstrated a clear political bias and motive," the letter reads.
The 49 celebrities who wrote the earlier letter included Anurag Kashyap, Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mani Ratnam and Konkona Sen Sharma. It was addressed to Prime Minister Modi, expressing concern over the growing cases of lynching in India.
In the counter-letter, the 62 celebrities said the "document of selective outrage comes across as an attempt to foist a false narrative with the intention of denigrating ethos and norms of our collective functioning as a nation and people".
"It is aimed at tarnishing India's international standing and to negatively portray Prime Minster Narendra Modi's untiring efforts to effectuate governance on the foundations of positive nationalism and humanism which is the core of Indianness.
"The signatories to the 'open letter' have, in the past, kept silent when the tribals and the marginalised have become victims of Naxal terror, they have kept silent when separatists have issued dictates to burn schools in Kashmir, they have kept silent when the demand for dismembering India, for making pieces of her 'Tukde Tukde' — were made, they kept silent when slogans chanted by terrorists and terror groups were echoed in some leading university campuses in the country."
The counter open letter claimed "their (the 49 personalities) concerns smack of dishonesty and opportunism".
"They have argued that 'anti-government' stands cannot be equated with anti-national sentiments. In fact under Modi regime we see maximum liberty to differ, to criticise and to abuse government and the dispensation in power — the spirit of dissent have never been stronger."
They urged "everyone to give up being selective and condemn lynching, discrimination and desecration of religious places with equal vehemence when they occur".
"Lynching is a social malady which has to be dealt up front, (the) Prime Minster has spoken out against it repeatedly, and respective state government are empowered to take action.
"Instead of indulging in grand-standing, personalities with social and public profile ought to generate greater awareness on the need to tackle and eliminate the mind-set that leads to lynching.
"The open letter comes across to us as an attempt to mock the mandate of the marginalised, to create a false sense of fear and siege and to try and derail India's march towards collective empowerment of all sections of society. It is clearly an attempt to defame the nation. We condemn the conspiracy," the letter concludes.