Three days after 49 eminent personalities wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing concern over incidents of lynching and alleged weaponisation of the slogan "Jai Shri Ram", 62 others have hit back, accusing them of "selective outrage, false narratives and a clear political bias" in an open letter.
The authors of this new letter include Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prasoon Joshi, Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, and classical dancer and Rajya Sabha member Sonal Mansingh.
"An open letter which has been published on July 23, 2019, and addressed to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has astonished us. Forty nine self-styled 'guardians' and conscience keepers' of the nation... have expressed selective concern and demonstrated a clear political bias and motive," the letter read.
"To us, the undersigned, this document of selective outrage comes across as an attempt to foist a FALSE NARRATIVE... to negatively portray Prime Minister Modi's untiring efforts. The signatories of the 'open letter' have, in the past, kept silent when tribals and the marginalised have become victims of Naxal terror, they have kept silent when separatists have issued dictates to burn schools in Kashmir, they have kept silent when the demand for dismembering India were made..." the letter continued.
The signatories to the new letter also attacked the 49 for criticising the government, while arguing that "... in fact under the Modi regime we see maximum liberty to differ, to criticise and to abuse the government and dispensation in power - the spirit of dissent has never been stronger".
"They (49 people who wrote to PM Modi) seem hell bent to portray that there is deliberate wrongdoing prevalent - thereby dishonestly creating a false narrative," Prasoon Joshi said, according to news agency ANI.
On Tuesday, 49 people, including award-winning filmmakers Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Mani Ratnam, and historian Ramachandra Guha, wrote to the Prime Minister, urging him to intervene as the numbers of hate crime and atrocities against minority communities spike.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee supported the citizens' letter and said they were "quite right".
Actor Swara Bhasker, also backed the letter, stating "mob lynching had become an epidemic in the country". Kaushik Sen, one of the 49 signatories, claimed to have received death threats earlier this week.
With inputs from ANI