- "Free speech is the cornerstone of democracy," they said in a letter
- They mentioned Anurag Kashyap quitting Twitter alleging threats to family
- Many of these signatories have earlier written to PM Modi on mob violence
Prominent members of Kolkata's civil society have spoken up again, condemning the "culture of violence and intolerance" that made film-maker Anurag Kashyap quit the microblogging platform Twitter after allegations of threats to his family. In a letter, 28 signatories including film-maker Aparna Sen, actor Parambrata Chattopadhyay, theatre personalities Sohag Sen and Kaushik Sen, called it a "cue to raise a serious voice of concern".
"Free speech is the cornerstone of democracy, and Mr Kashyap is one among many today who face the risk of violence for merely expressing an opinion on a public platform," read the letter from CitizenSpeakIndia.
The "culture of violence" was "tearing apart the democratic fabric of our country by trying to silence all dialogue, debate and dissent," said the celebrities, many of whom earlier wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on mob violence and called for strong action in such cases.
Over the weekend, Mr Kashyap - who was also a signatory to the letter to the Prime Minister -quit Twitter, saying he was not being "allowed to speak my mind without fear".
"When your parents start to get calls and your daughter gets online threats you know that no one wants to talk. There isn't going to be reason or rationale. Thugs will rule and thuggery will be the new way of life. Congratulations everyone on this new India & hope you all thrive," one of his last tweets read.
Many of those who signed the letter to the Prime Minister -- calling for exemplary punishment in such cases -- had been trolled on social media. Days later, more than 60 celebrities issued counter-letter, questioning what they called "selective outrage and false narratives" of the other group.
"This group has also repeatedly expressed disdain for the faith of the majority in India. They have repeatedly heaped derision on those who believe in Lord Ram," added the celebrities, among whom were actor Kangana Ranaut, lyricist Prasoon Joshi and classical dancer Sonal Mansingh.