orty-nine filmmakers, historians and rights activists have written to the Prime Minister highlighting the increasing number of attacks on Muslims and Dalits and said that condemning such attacks in Parliament was not enough.
Among those who signed the letter were filmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen, Anurag Kashyap and historian Ramachandra Guha.
The letter, written on July 23, became public on social media on a day the Lok Sabha was debating amendments to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, where Trinamaul MP Mahua Moitra also spoke about the Opposition being called “anti-national” for criticising the government or the ruling party.
The letter made several points:
First, that the National Crime Records Bureau had cited 840 instances of attacks on Dalits in 2016 and that there was a reduction in conviction rate. It also said that 254 instances of religious identity-based hate crime were also recorded between January 2009 and October 2018 and in 62 per cent of the cases Muslims were targets.
Second, that the Prime Minister’s words of condemnation were not enough. Such attacks should be made “non-bailable”, the letter said, and “punishment should be meted out swiftly and surely”. If punishment for murder can be life term without parole, then “why not for lynchings”, the letter asked.