A group of senior journalists issued a statement today condemning the “cold and calculated silence from the country’s top leaders” in the face of a “marked increase in hate speech and even open calls for genocide”.
“The concerted amplification of hatred has been growing over the past years and months, as has the attendant advocacy of violence,” the statement said. “Sometimes, the occasion is an election, at other times it is a political gathering, a so-called ‘dharam sansad’, or a controversy over clothing, or even the screening of a movie.”
The statement was issued by former editor-in-chief of the Hindu N Ram; editor of the Telegraph R Rajagopal; executive editor of the Caravan magazine Vinod Jose, founders and editors of the Wire, Siddharth Vardarajan, Siddharth Bhatia and MK Venu; and other senior journalists.
The statement spotlighted “systematic hate being propagated against Muslims under the pretext of Covid-19”, “well-synchronised calls for the annihilation of Muslims”, the hijab controvery in Karnataka, and “systematic targeting of Muslim women and girls” through apps like Bulli Bai.
“When all these events are taken together, it is clear that a dangerous hysteria is being built up countrywide to push the idea that ‘Hinduism is in danger’ and to portray Muslim Indians as a threat to Hindu Indians and to India itself,” the statement read. “Only prompt and effective action by our constitutional, statutory, and democratic institutions can challenge, contain, and stop this disturbing trend.”
It also cited The Kashmir Files, saying it “cynically exploits the suffering and tragedy of the Kashmiri Pandits” and pointed out that “attempts have been made from the highest levels of government” to “stifle fully justified criticism of the film”.
Calling on the president, the election commission, chief justices and other judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, and other constitutional bodies, the statement said these institutions are “obliged to ensure that these calls for violence do not translate into something unimaginably worse”.
On the media’s role, the statement said that sections of the media allowed themselves to be “conduits for hate speech” and also asked media statutory bodies like the Press Council of India to urgently respond to the “crisis at hand”.