PUCL Press Statement on Intolerance of BJP Government to Expression of Concern of Rising Intolerance in India

November 10, 2015

PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties strongly condemns the hostility of the Union Government and the BJP to the writers, scientists, film makers and actors returning their awards to protest against the atmosphere of intolerance in the country and its Nazi-like attitude to the members of a particular community for not toeing the line of the government. Instead of engaging with more than a hundred protesting achievers, they have launched a tirade against them.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has termed it as ‘a manufactured paper rebellion’, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has alleged that they are protesting because they hate ‘Modiji’ and the West Bengal Governor Tripathi has urged the government to check their ‘political affiliation’ while Amit Shah has released a booklet to prove that they have vested interest which they are seeking to protect.

By launching the vilification campaign against the protesters instead of countering the allegation by marshalling facts and advancing convincing arguments to prove them wrong , the ruling dispensation has admitted that they have no defence and the allegation that they are presiding over an intolerant dispensation is true. The government must bear it in mind that as citizens of democratic India, the protesters have every right to love or hate a Prime Minister, a political ideology, make their own assessment of a situation, take remedial measures and support or oppose the policy or acts of a government. It is only in a Fascist State that the government demands that the citizens including scientists, writers and other creative artists must toe the government’s line , must ‘ love the leader ‘ and must blindly support the government.

PUCL views with extreme concern the fact that senior Ministers of the ruling Central Government, like Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad, are leading such a vicious, personal and unconstitutional attack on citizens exercising their fundamental right. By their actions they authenticate the growing view that the highest levels of the ruling NDA government is fully lending support, overtly and covertly, to the campaign of intolerance sweeping across India.

The attack on Shah Rukh Khan for his remarks that there is growing intolerance in India stands out for the vituperative reaction of the ruling party. Shah Rukh Khan is not only one of India’s greatest actors but also known for his respect for India’s diversity in religions, culture and festivals. The attack on Shah Rukh Khan by BJP General Secretary, Kailash Vijayvargiya and Yogi Adityanath, who compared him to Hafiz Saeed, the master mind behind the Mumbai terror attack of 2008, and asked to migrate to Pakistan ,smacks of the mindset of the Nazis against the Jews. It should not be overlooked that Shah Rukh Khan is not one of the protesters who returned their awards but faced such obnoxious attack simply for expressing the opinion, while answering a question , that an atmosphere of extreme intolerance exists. In sharp contrast, is the silence of the ruling party on the bold statement of Raghuram Rajan, RBI Governor, who not only spoke against the intolerance but advised against the culture of ban and of Narayanmurthy, who expressed his disapproval of intolerance .

The PUCL would like to remind the government that the people have given it the mandate to rule according to the letter and spirit of the constitution and it must do so to retain its legitimacy in the eyes of people.