As India celebrated its 73rd Republic Day, thirty-four eminent Indian personalities wrote a joint open letter to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai expressing their concern over the "frequent violence against religious minorities" in the state.
The letter made observations about the growing climate of intolerance and called out a 'callous and unconstitutional statement' made by legislators and the apparent inability of the government to 'rein -in fringe anti-social groups.'
A prominent TV channel, NDTV took note of the 'scathing criticism' in the letter, signed by Professor Vinod Gaur, who was the former Secretary at the Department of Science and Technology, Major General SG Vombatkere, VSM (Retired), scientist Mahesh Shah, and historian Ramchandra Guha, among others.
"We are a group of senior scientists, writers, academics, artists, and lawyers, and we write with concern about Karnataka's deteriorating governance and the frequent violence against religious minorities," read the letter.
Noted environmentalist Dr. Yellapa Reddy told NDTV, "All intellectuals in Karnataka state and well-known personalities feel humiliated because all our Chief Ministers were known for their statesmanship, and they did not allow such excesses in our state."
The letter stated, "Over the past few months, the state has witnessed the brutal killing of youths in several districts, rampant 'hate speeches,' public threats and disruptions of worship by religious minorities, 'honour killings,' 'moral policing,' misogynistic statements by legislators, and incidents of hostile and violent encounters between various religious groups. These trends have been encouraged by the callous and un-constitutional statements made by Legislators and the inability of the state machinery to rein-in fringe anti-social groups."
The letter noted that such trends go against the long history of Karnataka as a progressive state that facilitated social harmony of a plural society and initiated model welfare programs for all sections of the population.
"The state's cultural history celebrates the plurality of cultures and religious tolerance ... Our litterateurs, ranging from Bendre to Kuvempu, have celebrated a Karnatakatva (state of being a resident of Karnataka) that is based on multi-cultural identities that blend together to make a harmonious and rich social fabric," the letter said.
In the letter, the writers noted 'with both sadness and alarm' that traditions of tolerance and shared well-being are being torn asunder. Instead, the state is losing its identity on multiple fronts. On the fiscal, administrative, and political fronts, Karnataka is losing its federal strength."
The signatories called upon Chief Minister Basavraj 'to seriously review these negative trends in the state and ensure that the rule of law, the principles of the Constitution, the rights of all citizens, and the basic norms of humaneness prevail. It will be your abilities to address these challenges that will be the yardstick with which posterity will assess you," the letter said.
Chief Minister Basavraj dismissed claims by the personalities, ignoring the recent spate of attacks against the Christian community, the NDTV report said. "All the rights of minorities and others that are enshrined in the Constitution are protected to the hilt. If there is any excess anywhere, immediate action has been taken, and we will protect the minority rights," Chief Minster stated on camera.
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