Army veterans pen letter to President, Prime Minister on curbing hate speechestext_fields
A group of retired Army officials and prominent citizens have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind requesting they step in to curb incidents of increased religious animosity like speeches made at Haridwar in late December that called for the genocide of Indian Muslims.
The letter is undersigned by approximately 100 people, with the likes of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat (Retd), Former Chief of Naval Staff, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, Former Vice Chief of the Army Staff, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, (Retd), Former Chief of Air Staff as well as prominent journalists and doctors.
"We are seriously perturbed by the content of speeches made during a 3 day religious conclave called a Dharma Sansad, of Hindu Sadhus and other leaders, held at Haridwar...There were repeated calls for establishing a Hindu Rashtra and, if required, picking up weapons and killing of India's Muslims in the name of protecting Hinduism...One speaker made a call to the army and police to pick up weapons and participate in the cleanliness drive (safai abhiyan). This amounts to asking the army to participate in genocide of our own citizens, and is condemnable and unacceptable," the letter reads.
Such hate speeches, no matter which community was involved, posed a risk to India's social fabric and its internal security, allowing weaknesses to be exploited by outside forces, the authors asserted. They referenced other incidents of communal hate speeches and also increased attacks on minorities like the Christian community
"In view of the current situation on our borders, any breach of peace and harmony within the Nation will embolden inimical external forces. The unity and cohesiveness of our men and women in uniform, including the CAPFs and Police Forces, will be seriously affected by allowing such blatant calls for violence against one or the other community in our diverse and plural society," the letter reads.
Stating that all branches of the Indian Armed Forces were sworn to uphold the Constitution and protect Indian citizens, the authors of the letter called for the President and Prime Minister to step in to condemn such incidents involving communal disharmony. It was the responsibility of political parties to 'reign in' their cadres and prevent such incitements to violence, they added.
"It is in the National Interest that all parties should refrain from using religion in politics and pledge to uphold our Constitution and the wellbeing of our people - thus ensuring both National and Human Security for all," the missive concludes.
The letter was also addressed in copies to Supreme Court Chief Justice N.V Ramana and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla amongst others.