Charges against celebrities: Activists warn to be up in arms

After the sedition charges slapped against 49 eminent personalities for expressing concern in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over growing incidents of mob lynching, civil society activists and intellectuals came in support of them and have written a similar open letter to the PM to register their protest against the charges.

Charges were slapped against 49 celebrities including historian Ramchandra Guha, actor Aparna Sen and filmmakers Mani Ratnam and Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Activists and intellectuals symbolically released the letter to media on Sunday, which was signed by K. Neela, Mahesh Rathod, Arjun Bhadre, Maruti Gokhale, Kashinath Ambalagi, Maula Mulla and others.

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Ms. Neela said that if working for truth, peace, justice and democracy amounts to being anti-national and attracts sedition charges, an overwhelming majority of people in the country, including herself, were anti-nationals.

She asked whether urging the Prime Minister to take measures to prevent mob lynching and ensure rule of law is an anti-national activity? She said, the celebrated intellectuals and scholars, who have contributed a great deal in their own fields to make India proud, had demanded the very same thing that India’s Constitution guarantees to every citizen. If that is an anti-national activity, most of the people in this country, including those who have signed this letter to Prime Minister, would be anti-national, she asserted.

Kashinath Ambalagi said the Constitution has given us the right to question authority whenever we feel that it is doing wrong. He expressed concern that those in power are projecting the exercise of this Constitutionally-guaranteed right as anti-national.

The Hindu quoted Mr Bhadre as saying “If Mr. Modi continues to behave like an RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] volunteer and implement its poisonous Hindutva ideology instead of discharging his duties as a Prime Minister of an elected government, the people in the country will have to be up in arms to overthrow Modi’s regime for saving India’s democracy.”

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