Two days after 49 artistes, including Aparna Sen and Anurag Kashyap, wrote to PM Narendra Modi expressing concern over recent cases of lynching and ‘Jai Shri Ram’ becoming a ‘war cry’, several members of the film industry and other media issued a counter to it.
The “open letter”, shared with the media on Friday, accuses these artistes of “selective outrage, false narratives and a clear political bias”. The 62 signatories include lyricist and CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi, actor Kangana Ranaut, dancer Sonal Mansingh and musician Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.
Referring to their colleagues as “self-styled guardians of the nation and democracy”, they claimed their aim was to “tarnish India’s international standing and to negatively portray Prime Minister Modi’s untiring efforts to effectuate governance on the foundations of positive nationalism and humanism which is the core of Indianness”.
“They have argued that ‘anti-government stands cannot be equated with anti-national sentiments’, in fact under the Modi regime we see maximum liberty to differ, to criticise and to abuse the government and the dispensation in power —- the spirit of dissent has never been stronger. The Constitution of India certainly gives the right to dissent but not the right to try and break India apart. To disguise the propensity for subversion by the name of dissent is a dangerous trait,” said the letter.
It listed 12 points on which, the signatories claimed, their colleagues were silent, for instance when Hindus were under attack in West Bengal recently or the Kashmiri Pandit issue.
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri said, “One cannot let them give the impression that select communities are in danger. They have been criticising the Modi-led government ever since it came into power. But this outrage is selective. Did they speak up when Jagannath Tudu was bludgeoned to death in Purulia just because he followed a different political ideology from that of the ruling dispensation in West Bengal?”
Filmmaker Ashok Pandit added that these artistes were merely creating an atmosphere of restlessness.