LONDON, Oct 6 (APP): Over 200 prominent citizens from the United Kingdom – artists, journalists, lawyers, politicians and over 50 senior academics – have signed an open letter condemning the ‘dictatorial and majoritarian agenda’ being pursued by Modi led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
These include British MPs cutting across various political parties, including the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, the Scottish National Party’s Brendan O’Hara (spokesperson on International Human Rights), and sitting
members of the House of Lords, including Shami Chakrabarti (former director of civil liberties group Liberty), according to an article published with New Delhi dateline in The Wire India.
The British signatories have expressed solidarity with “courageous activists in India who are opposing this vicious regime”.
The many prominent cultural figures supporting this letter include Danny Boyle (director of Slumdog Millionaire), filmmaker Ken Loach, actress Maxine Peake, musician Lowkey, novelist Hari Kunzru, cultural producer Tobi Kyeremateng, environmentalist George Monbiot and writer Paul Gilroy.
Significantly, a number of British-Indian cultural figures have also signed their names – journalists (Ash Sarkar, Angela Saini), writers (Nikesh Shukla, Preti Taneja, Sandeep Parmar, Jemma Desai), musicians (Adam Bainbridge, Kapil Seshasayee, Sarathy Korwar), and theatre-makers (Tanika Gupta, Vinay Patel, Anjli Mohindra, Rakhee Thakrar, Milli Bhatia).
The article quoted the letter as saying the Modi led regime had incarcerated student protestors, feminist campaigners, human rights activists and prominent civil society figures. Many arrests were made on the basis of emergency laws that had no accountability, like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
It added that in some cases, patently absurd charges of rioting were concocted to frame activists whose protests have always been peaceful and constitutional.
The article said the criminalisation of dissent had intensified in unprecedented ways in recent months. Arrests had been made under the cover of the COVID lockdown, while the pandemic raged across India.
The callous Modi government had not only failed its vulnerable population of migrant workers but also exposed activists to India’s unsanitary jails, which were breeding grounds for disease, it added.
Several imprisoned activists, it said, had already caught the virus.
Meanwhile, the BJP leaders had made inflammatory hate speeches calling for vigilante attacks on anyone protesting the regime. There was mounting evidence that police forces were complicit in abetting and committing brutality against Muslims in horrific riots instigated in Delhi in March, and the actual perpetrators of violence were evading accountability.
The Modi regime, the Wire India added, was systematically destroying India’s constitutional democracy in pursuit of its dictatorial and majoritarian agenda.
“India’s image in the world has never been so tarnished”, it said.
“We stand with the courageous activists in India who are opposing this vicious regime and call for the immediate release of all political prisoners”, the letter said.