Actor Kaushik Sen, one of 49 eminent personalities who wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, asking him to intervene in incidents of lynching and the alleged weaponisation of the slogan "Jai Shri Ram" into a "war cry", has claimed to have received death threats.
"Yesterday I received a call from an unknown number, where I was threatened of dire consequences if I don't stop raising my voice against lynchings and intolerance. I was told that I would be killed if I don't mend my ways," Kaushik Sen, 50, told news agency PTI.
A senior police officer said the alleged threat was being investigated.
"To be honest, I am not bothered about such calls. I have also informed other signatories about the call and forwarded them the number," Mr Sen added.
Mob attacks, like those that killed Tabrez Ansari, 24, in Jharkhand last month, were brought into sharp focus by the authors of the letter, who argued "human lynching is our concern. Our objection is against lynchings be it against Muslims or Hindus".
"Dear Prime Minister... The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. 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..." the letter said.
According to the letter, data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) showed there were 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in 2016, and "a definite decline in the percentage of convictions".
Award-winning filmmaker Aparna Sen, who is one of the signatories and took part in a press conference about the letter on Wednesday, also said it had nothing to do with politics.
"The lynchings of minorities is wrong. It is not about party or politics. Our letter has no political colour. We just want him (PM Modi) to intervene," the letter, which was also signed by filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Shyam Benegal and Anurag Kashyap among others, continued.
The Prime Minister had, in June, condemned in parliament the lynching of Tabrez Ansari, and said all incidents of violence, whether in Jharkhand or Kerala, should be treated in the same manner and perpetrators of violence taught that the entire country was one on this issue.
The letter also raised the issue of the "Jai Shri Ram" chant, alleging that it had become a "provocative 'war-cry'" that led to law and order problems.
'It is shocking that so much violence should be perpetrated in the name of religion! These are not the Middle Ages! The name of Ram is sacred to many in the majority community of India. As the highest Executive of this country, you must put a stop to the name of Ram being defiled in this manner," the letter continued.
Another actor, Swara Bhasker, backed the letter and its authors yesterday, stating that "lynching had become an epidemic in the country".
"Mob lynching has become an epidemic in the country today and I don't think that we can turn our face away from this harsh reality. There's no point in falsifying it," news agency ANI quoted the 31-year-old Nil Battey Sannata star as saying at an event in Mumbai.
With input from PTI