Padmaavat protests are only a representation of the wider malice perpetuated under your rule in the society.

Respected Modiji,

This letter might take you by surprise. But since you believe only in one-sided conversations – like your Mann Ki Baat – and giving scripted interviews to select TV channels, I have no other option.

Modiji, as you enjoyed the snowy winters in Davos, the law and order situation back home had collapsed. I am sure you were aware of it. Over the release of Padmaavat, the Karni Sena first targeted your home state of Gujarat. The violence then spilled over into Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. In Gurgaon, the outfit crossed all limits and attacked a school bus. Thankfully, the kids survived.

All of these states are ruled by your party and I find it unbelievable, Modiji, that the chief ministers of the concerned states could not control these terrorists. On the contrary, members of your party are egging on the Karni Sena and you have been a mute spectator to it. Your supporters might point out that Karni Sena leader, who is also a BJP media coordinator, Suraj Pal Amu, has been put in house arrest. But it reminds of the time when Pakistan had put Hafiz Saeed in house arrest last year. Instead of such laughable tokenism, remind yourself of the overreaction of your state government in Uttar Pradesh to the Bhim Sena and juxtapose the “action” against Amu.

Modiji, it begs the question whether you indeed intend to stop the violence. Why can’t you show the same resolve you showed while rightly standing behind Taslima Nasrin? Or are you and the Congress, by remaining in the “pushpak” mode, trying to electorally capitalise on the polarisation?

ro_012718040237.jpgImage: PTI photo

You may ask, Modiji, that if the Congress too is guilty of silence, why are you being solely targeted. After all, right from the time of the Emergency to banning Salman Rushdie or James Lane’s books, the Congress faltered badly. But that is exactly why you are in power.

Even today, leaders like Digvijaya Singh are being apologists of the Karni Sena. But then he is not the prime minister, Modji, you are. Your silence has merely validated their grotesque actions. And the peace-loving citizens of the country would demand an explanation. Which parent would remain quiet after his/her child is subjected to physical assault over a film? Also, the developments back home have only ruined your speech in Davos. Who would want to invest in India when a mob can successfully hold state after state to ransom over a movie?

Modiji, Padmaavat protests are only a representation of the wider malice perpetuated under your rule in the society. The larger question is of the Constitution. The film could be a snooze fest, but freedom of expression gives one the right to be a bad filmmaker. If the film has a green signal from the CBFC and the Supreme Court, it is your duty to ensure its smooth release. Your state chief ministers did not uphold the Constitution. And your silence means you are okay with it. If you won’t stand by the Constitution, who are we supposed to look up to?   Do you remember the time when you stepped into Parliament for the first time as prime minister? You had bowed down and kissed the steps to show your respect for the “temple of democracy”. It was indeed a moving gesture. But now I wonder if it was just another act played to the gallery. The havoc caused by the Karni Sena is a big blot on your regime. However, Modiji, it isn’t the first one. After you came to power, the first casualty was Mohsin Sheikh in Pune. Then Mohammad Akhlaq, Junaid… How many names should I recollect?

The “gun” then turned towards the Dalits. Your saffron goons did not leave a single chance to persecute the most-deprived section of the society. Student activists were labelled seditious, Rohith Vemula had to commit suicide even as innocent workers were flogged in Una.

How am I supposed to have faith in your belief in the Constitution? Or is it a planned move towards a Hindu Rashtra? Time has come for you to answer this question because you came to power saying “sabka saath, sabka vikas”. I genuinely believe, Modiji, that you could have stopped the disruption if you wanted to. Just like the British government protected Rushdie, or Ashok Chavan ensured a smooth release of My Name Is Khan, you had the chance to reassure the artists and citizens of India.

It is a matter of will. And you have failed the test of will till date. It is still not late, Modiji. But you don’t have a lot of time left to undo what you have already unleashed. We just celebrated our 69th Republic Day. I hope you have sworn by the Constitution with all your heart. Else, history won’t be kind to you.

A concerned citizen with faith in the Constitution

Nikhil Wagle

Related posts