We have proven prophets of doom wrong: Eminent personalities in open letter to citizens
The letter has been written by retired SC judge, actors, filmmakers etc. calling for people to introspect on values of truth and nonviolence
In the wake of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) protests gripping the country and the violence that has ensued in the matter, apart from the violence meted out to the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to try and break their unity against the fee hike, eminent personalities like former Supreme Court judge J Chelameswar, ex-Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, musician TM Krishna, veteran actress Sharmila Tagore, former member of the Planning Commission Syeda Hameed, filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Lt. Gen. Harcharanjit Singh Panag have written an open letter to the citizens of India asking them to “audit and introspect” the working of the Constitution ahead of the 70th anniversary of the Republic of India.
In their letter they asked, “Is the Constitution a mere administrative manual which enables the elected governments to claim legitimacy for abuse of power, and allows the citizens to convert liberty into license disregarding rights of others? Is it simply another text penned by ink, or a sacred text written in the blood of innumerable martyrs who transcended the barriers of caste, religion, region, ethnicity and language?”
Titled, 70 years of Indian Constitution – A Defining Moment, their letter read, “Seventy years ago, we declared ourselves a sovereign, democratic republic to secure to all the citizens’ justice, liberty and equality, and promote fraternity among all.”
They added, “We have come a long way since then. We have made democracy and universal franchise work against all odds and prove the many prophets of doom wrong.”
Their statement asserted that, “Peaceful and harmonious reconciliation of conflicting interests, healthy public discourse, and respect for dissenting views are at the heart of democracy”, asking people to introspect whether “Truth and Nonviolence – the two values held very dear to the Father of the Nation continue to inform our actions in the public sphere.”
In conclusion, they said, “The 70th anniversary of the Republic is an appropriate moment to celebrate and introspect by peacefully observing the birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (January 23), foundation day of the Election Commission celebrated as the National Voters Day (January 25), the Republic Day (January 26) and the martyrdom of the Father of the Nation (January 30).”
The Citizenship Amendment Act which became effective on January 10, 2020 seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from the countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The contentious law has categorically excluded the mention of Muslims, calling for the ire of people who adhere to the values of secularism and pluralism.