'Silence not an Option': a firm humanitarian voicetext_fields
Any one who wishes to see the existence of secular democracy in the country would but see as absolutely relevant the concern expressed by 28 senior journalists in the country over the creation of a nationwide hysteria that 'Hinduism is in danger' and that Muslims are a threat. They draw the urgent attention of the President, Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, media organisations and other constitutional bodies to the anti-Muslim sentiments being spread under the guise of the recent film 'The Kashmir Files', and the hate speech and similar incidents against Muslim women in Karnataka in the name of hijab. Those who signed the statement, titled 'In the Face of Orchestrated Hatred, Silence Is Not an Option', include prominent mediapersons, the Hindu's Director, N.K. Ram, Mrinal Pandey, 'Telegraph' editor R. Rajagopal, Siddharth Varadarajan, founder editor of 'The Wire' and Vinod Jose, Executive Editor of 'Caravan'. They have called for an immediate proactive measures for fulfilling the constitutional obligation at the face of open calls from various quarters to launch attacks on India's religious minorities, especially Muslims. They cite the fact that such cry for the annihilation of Muslims have been increasing particularly since the December 2021 religious gathering in Haridwar,. The statement also refers to attacks on Muslim women and girls on social media, including the attempt through the vitriolic Bulli Bai app. The veteran journalists also point out that the ugly controversy over the hijab in Karnataka has led to the attacks on, and humiliation of Muslim women in various parts of India.
The statement recalls that in the February-March 2022 elections, the ruling party's star campaigners incited hatred against Muslims and other minorities and shamelessly asked for votes in the name of religion. The 'The Kashmir Files' is only the latest example, which created an opportunity to highlight the plight and sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits and thus to to incite hatred against Muslims inside and outside the cinemas. Even the criticisms about the trend was construed by the higher echelons of power as attempts to discredit the film. The statement recalls that months ago, even in the background of Covid-19, many including people's representatives were eager to spread anti-Muslim hatred under that pretext. The signatories of the statement including senior journalists and officials conclude the call by drawing the attention of media bodies such as the Press Council of India, the National Broadcasters and Digital Association and news channels, to the fact that a section of the media also became 'conduits of hate speech'.
We note with sorrow that media owners, activists, intellectuals and advocates of secularism are in general turning a blind eye to the most dangerous communalism either out of fear of government's retaliatory action or succumbing to its temptations. It has become a routine that if anyone breaks silence, they are branded urban Naxalites and imprisoned indefinitely without trial under the UAPA. Given this situation where silence is not an option, it gives no small consolation that there are some in the country who are willing to point their finger at the destructive trend that is undermining the very relevance of a secular democratic constitution. Most of those who endorsed the statement have a record of of raising their voice for freedom, human rights and the integrity of the nation. It is also a fact that the media they lead or work in are those who, without any aid of the government or corporate advertising, fight even suffering a loss. But what sustains their isolated voice for truth and justice is the steady support and cooperation of true patriots, humanitarians and victims. It is also a source of profound relief that there are judges in the courts who question the model of state terrorism; while hearing the complaints of innocents - victims of government's vindictive actions based on arbitrary and unjustifiable grounds - they question the practice of putting the defendant lawyers in the dark by submitting sealed covers and secure verdicts in favour of the government. In this context, the firm voice of 28 senior journalists should certainly help to lift the morale of religious minorities.