KOLKATA: Two days after 49 eminent personalities wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the alleged rise in hate crimes across the country over the last few years, actor-turned-Trinamool Congress lawmaker Nusrat Jahan today penned an open letter highlighting the importance of human life at a time when its people were facing “horrendous acts of mobocracy”.
“Hate crimes and mob lynchings are on a steep rise in our country. The 2014-2019 (period) has the most hate crimes against Muslims, Dalits and minorities to its credit. 2019 has witnessed more than 11 hate crimes and 4 deaths, and they are all minorities and the suppressed,” the letter said, exuding hope that her fellow citizens would raise their voice against it.
Ms Jahan claimed that there were numerous incidents of people across the country being attacked by “cow vigilantes” over rumours of eating beef and smuggling cattle. “The government’s selective silence and inaction in this regard has hit us hard,” she wrote. “Injustice in our country has various names, including Tabrez Ansari, Mohd Ikhlaq and Pehlu Khan.”
While 52-year-old Mohd Ikhlaq was killed by a mob of villagers in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri four years ago on suspicion of cow slaughter, Pehlu Khan (55) was brutally beaten up by cow vigilantes while he was transporting cattle along the Delhi-Alwar highway on April 1, 2017. On the other hand, 24-year-old Tabrez Ansari was killed earlier this year in Jharkhand by a mob that kept asking him to chant “Jai Shri Ram”.
Nusrat Jahan, who was elected from West Bengal’s Basirhat constituency in the recent Lok Sabha polls, also raised the “Jai Shri Ram” slogan issue in her letter. “Lynch mobs have actually turned the Lord’s name into a murder cry. Mob lynching criminals are nothing but enemies of our country,” Nusrat Jahan said, urging the centre to frame a law aimed at curbing such “assaults on democracy”.
She ended the letter with a line from Sare Jahan Se Accha, a patriotic song written by poet Muhammad Iqbal. “Majhab nahi sikhata, Aapas mein bair rakhna,” it read, translating to ‘Religion does not teach us to bear ill-will among ourselves’.
The previous letter written by the 49 personalities, including filmmaker Aparna Sen, historian Ramachandra Guha and noted director Mani Ratnam, had demanded concrete action from the centre against those indulging in mob killings. “You have criticised such lynchings in parliament, Mr Prime Minister, but that is not enough… We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non-bailable,” it read.
Later, at a press conference, Aparna Sen said that they were opposed to any kind of lynching – be it of Hindus or Muslims.