[Citizens hold placards during a silent protest "Not in My Name" against targeted lynchings, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on June 28, 2017. (Photo: PTI)]
New Delhi: More than 100 military veterans have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern over the rampant climate of fear and intimidation and saying they cannot remain silent when Muslims and Dalits are being targeted and killed in the country.
"We have spent our careers working for the security of our country. Collectively, our group holds no affiliation with any single political party, our only common commitment being to the Constitution of India," over 110 veterans of the armed forces wrote in a letter addresed to Prime Minister Modi, chief ministers of states and Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories.
"We can no longer look away... Our diversity is our greatest strength. Dissent is not treason; in fact, it is the essence of democracy", they said.
The letter comes a month after thousands hit the streets in cities across India to protest a surge in mob violence. The campaign 'Not In My Name' was sparked by the recent killing of a 16-year-old Muslim boy on a train near Delhi by attackers who called him a 'beef-eater'.
"We stand with the 'Not in My Name' campaign that mobilised thousands of citizens across the country to protest against the current climate of fear, intimidation, hate and suspicion...
"What is happening in our country today strikes at all that the Armed Forces, and indeed our Constitution, stand for...
"We are witness to unprecedented attacks on society at large by the relentless vigilantism of self-appointed protectors of Hinduism.
"We condemn the targeting of Muslims and Dalits... We condemn the clampdowns on free speech by attacks on media outlets, civil society groups, universities, journalists and scholars, through a campaign of branding them anti-national," the veterans said in their letter.
"It saddens us to make this appeal. But, current events in India have compelled us to register our dismay at the divisiveness that is grappling our country", they said.
Earlier in June this year, Ex-Army Major SGM Quadri had written a letter to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) demanding for justice "which must be seen to be done", and "done without delay".
"It is neither a sudden nor a stray incident. There is a pattern emerging, a sustained well-oiled, well-orchestrated Hate-Muslim campaign resulting into 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, 2014 Assam violence, Pune engineer’s murder, 2015 Dadri mob lynching, 2016 Jharkhand lynching, 2017 Patan riots and 2017 Alwar mob lynching", he wrote narrating in the beginning how 16-year-old Junaid, a Hafiz, was lynched in a running train few days before Eid.
Junaid with his two brothers and cousins was returning home after Eid shopping when he was stabbed to death, and his brothers and cousins mercilessly beaten in a running train just 20 kms from India's capital New Delhi.
The letter written on the letter head of "Social Initiave for Legal Remedies" is also signed by Dr Hasanuddin Ahmed IAS and Mohd Shafiquzzaman IAS.
"After the murder, allegedly the assailants jumped off at Asoti Railway Station and fled possibly as per a predetermined plan. If true, escape route and getaway vehicles with accomplices could have been waiting to help them escape in small groups", the letter said.