Scholars, journalists, ex-IAS officers write to Karnataka CM over attacks on Muslims, Christians and Dalits

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As many as 75 concerned citizens have written to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai expressing their concerns over recent developments in the state that “threaten to destroy peace, diversity and pluralism”.

This comes in the backdrop of various kinds of attacks on Muslims and other minorities including hijab-wearing students in the state. “Given this glorious background, the recent spate of attacks of various kinds aimed at Muslim, Christian and Dalit communities has shocked and upset those who pride themselves on Karnataka’s receptive and inclusive nature,” the letter said.

The signatories of the letter include journalists, artists, historians and former civil servants.

Some excerpts from letter and list of signatories are published below.

We are a group of concerned citizens from different walks of life based in Karnataka who, like lakhs of fellow citizens, are deeply disturbed by recent developments in the state that threaten to destroy the peace, diversity and pluralism for which Kannada Naadu has long been known and admired. We believe it is our duty to bring our concerns and suggestions to your attention for corrective action.

Given this glorious background, the recent spate of attacks of various kinds aimed at Muslim, Christian and Dalit communities has shocked and upset those who pride themselves on Karnataka’s receptive and inclusive nature.

It is bad enough that individuals and groups motivated by bigotry and hatred are attempting to reconfigure the idea and established reality of Karnataka by aggressively seeking to exclude, isolate, dispossess and assault communities on the basis of religion and caste.

It is even more alarming and distressing that some people in responsible positions, including several who hold office having taken an oath to uphold and abide by the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India, now openly violate that solemn pledge and demonise members of certain minorities. They also appear to validate, support and even promote intimidation, vigilantism, violence, forcible takeover of property, as well as social and economic boycotts, all aimed at rendering them second class citizens who can no longer expect to enjoy their Constitutional rights.

It is clear that such elected representatives of the people have forgotten both Article 51A(e) and Article 51A(f) of the Constitution. While the first states that it is the fundamental duty of every citizen “to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities,” the second mandates every citizen “to value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture.”

The current spate of divisive actions aimed at alienating particular communities and denying them their fundamental rights will not only hamper development but also hurt our state’s reputation, hinder progress and innovation, erode the confidence of entrepreneurs and investors, heighten insecurity, suspicion, fear and resentment among citizens, and cause harm to all sections of society, while also threatening the integrity of our nation. It is not possible to “Make in India” in a climate where people are “Scared in India” and even “Scarred in India.”

On the occasion of Basava Jayanthi 2022 (3 May), it was encouraging to see prominent government advertisements in the press which stated that “Building an equitable and harmonious society as envisaged by Basavanna is our goal.” The quotation from our Prime Minister highlighted the fact that Basaveshwara emphasised “social harmony, brotherhood, unity and compassion.” It would have been even more heartening if the government had also acknowledged Ramzan/Idu’l Fitr, celebrated on the same day, and used the occasion to reach out to Muslim citizens, reassuring them about their safety and security, especially at a time when they have been under persistent attack.

Considering that the Government of Karnataka bears a Constitutional obligation to ensure that peace, harmony and justice prevail in the state, we urge you, as the Chief Minister, to take the following actions to restore the well-being and confidence of all citizens:

1. Direct the state’s police force to do its Constitutional duty to uphold the law, safeguard vulnerable citizens and guarantee that victims of crimes, including communal and casteist hate crimes, have full access to justice, and also that witnesses can come forward to testify, confident that they will receive due protection.
2. In the event of communal conflict resulting in violence as well as loss of lives and livelihoods, take appropriate action against the local authorities responsible for maintaining peace and harmony: the district administration in general and the District Commissioner and Superintendent of Police in particular.
3. Take prompt and strong action against hate speech that dehumanises members of particular communities, and against the increasingly frequent, vicious calls for physical violence, as well as equally damaging social and economic boycotts.
4. Take immediate cognisance of and stand up publicly against the misinformation and false stories about minorities that are regularly being circulated now – in the form of public utterances as well as through social and other forms of media – which aggravate the risk of citizens who belong to such communities being subjected to discrimination and violence.
5. Urge those sections of the media that have been openly stoking the fires of division and discord by promoting intolerance, hatred and violence, and spreading fake news and false rumours, to immediately stop such malpractice. They must know that unscrupulous media that violate the established principles, standards and ethics of journalism and vitiate peace and harmony in our state do not enjoy impunity.

We look forward to seeing firm and unambiguous official action on this front in the near future.

With respectful regards,
Yours sincerely,

1. N.T. Abroo, IAS (Retd)
2. Dr. Sharath Ananthamurthy, Professor of Physics
3. Dr. H.S. Anupama, Writer
4. Gita Aravamudan, Journalist/Author
5. Anand Arni, Special Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
6. Srilatha Batliwala, Gender Expert & Former State Programme Director, Mahila Samakhya, Karnataka
7. Dr Svati Bhogle, Sustainable Technology Expert
8. Dr. Sabiha Bhumigowda, Professor of Kannada (retd.), Mangalore University
9. Dr. Vasundhara Bhupathi, Medical Practitioner & Writer
10. Maya Chandra, Documentary Film Maker
11. Francis TR Colaso, IPS (Retd)
12. Navroze Contractor, Photographer/Cinematographer
13. P.R. Dasgupta, IAS (Retd)
14. Edgar Demello, Architect
15. Shashi Deshpande, Writer
16. Deepa Dhanraj, Documentary Film Maker
17. Dr. Chandan Gowda, Academic & Writer
18. Dr. Ramachandra Guha, Historian
19. Nagesh Hegde, Journalist
20. Dr. S. Japhet, Former Founding Vice Chancellor, Bengaluru City University
21. Ammu Joseph, Journalist/Author
22. Ravi Joshi, Joint Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, GoI
23. Rajagopal Kadambi, Former International Basketball Player & Captain, Karnataka Team
24. Dr. Malavika (Karanth) Kapur, Professor Clinical Psychology (retd.)
25. Girish Kasaravalli, Film Maker
26. Ravi Kashi, Artist
27. Mallikarjun Katakol, Photographer
28. Lakshmipathy Kolar, Author & Poet
29.Professor Ravivarma Kumar, Former Advocate General of Karnataka, Former Chairperson, Karnataka Backward Classes Commission
30. Vishu Kumar, Former Director, Department of Information, GoK
31. Dr Sharachchandra Lele, Environmental Scientist
32. Keshava Malagi, Writer
33. C.G. Manjula, Journalist
34. Dr. Satyajit Mayor, Professor of Biology
35. G.N. Mohan, Journalist
36. Shanthamani Muddaiah, Artist
37. Dr. Janaki Nair, Professor of History (retd.)
38. Prathibha Nandakumar, Author, Journalist & Poet
39. Dr. K.G. Narayanan, Scientist & Former Chief Advisor, DRDO
40.Dr. Revathi Narayanan, Social Scientist & Former Director, Mahila Samakhya, Karnataka
41. Pascal Nazareth, IFS/Ambassador of India (Retd)
42. Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana, Writer & Academic
43. Dr. Vijay Padaki, Professor of Management (Retd) & Theatre Educator
44. M. D. Pallavi, Singer & Theatre Artiste
45. R. Poornima, Journalist, Author & Publisher
46. N. Pushpamala, Artist
47. T.R. Raghunandan, IAS (Retd)
48. Dr. Suvrat Raju, Professor of Physics
49. Dr. Sujatha Ramadorai, Researcher, Mathematician
50. Kotiganahalli Ramaiah, Writer
51. Dr. Mohan Rao, Professor of Public Health (retd.)
52. Dr. Natesh Rathna, Former Director, AIISH and Theatre Artist
53. Vijayalatha Reddy, IFS/Ambassador of India (Retd)
54. Dr. Yellappa Reddy, Former Secretary, Ecology, Environment and Forests
55. Mamta Sagar, Poet
56. M.S. Sathyu, Film Maker & Theatre Person
57. Abhijit Sengupta, IAS (Retd)
58. Poile Sengupta, Writer
59. Vivek Shanbagh, Writer
60. H. Shashidhar, IAS (Retd)
61. Dr. Prajval Shastri, Professor of Physics (retd.)
62. Chiranjeevi Singh, IAS (Retd), Former Ambassador of India to UNESCO
63. Ajai Kumar Singh, IPS (Retd)
64.Pichalli Srinivas, Singer & Theatre Artist, Former Director, Karnataka Janapada Academy
65. H.R. Sujatha, Poet
66. B. Suresha, Director/Actor
67. Dr. P.V. Nanjaraj Urs, Professor of History & Writer
68. Vaidehi, Writer
69. Rameshwari Varma, Theatre Artiste & Activist
70. Dr. A.R. Vasavi, Professor of Agrarian Studies
71. S.G. Vasudev, Artist
72. Dr. Vijayamma, Journalist & Film Critic
73. S.R. Vijayashankar, Kannada Critic and Columnist
74. Dr. Sudhir G. Vombatkere, Engineer
75. Dr. Vinod Vyasulu, Professor of Economics (retd.), Institute of Social and Economic Change

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