The letter penned by 49 celebrities to Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighting the spike in attacks on Muslims, Dalits and other minorities and seeking his intervention to prevent their recurrence echoed the sentiment of all right-thinking people.
No impartial observer of India’s political and social scene would refuse to concede the correctness of the statement made by the celebrities in their letter saying “Jai Shri Ram has become a provocative ‘war-cry’ today". In forcing non-Hindus to chant Jai Shri Ram, Hindutva zealots do not deify Ram, but defile his name. It is a cocktail of bigotry and impiety to force anyone to chant the name of a deity against his will. The creation of an environment of religious intolerance and hatred must be deplored and condemned unequivocally.
The problem is not religion per se but religious fundamentalism that is blind to the preciousness of all life. Citizenship cannot be made conditional on chanting any deity’s name. Division and disunity in the name of religion take the focus away from the need (and the efforts required) to mitigate widespread impoverishment. The poor are pitted against each other along religious lines so that they do not unite in fighting for their rights. As for ‘dissent’ and divergence of opinion, they lend substance to democracy. Any political system refusing to allow dissent becomes a tyranny.
G David Milton, Maruthancode
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