New Delhi(Indilens News Team): Former PM Manmohan Singh has said that supression of dissent poses great danger to democracy, amid protests by writers, intellectuals and filmmakers against ‘growing intolerance’ under the Narendra Modi government.
“The nation is deeply concerned at the recent tragic incidents of blatant violation of right to freedom of thought, belief, speech and expression by some violent extremist groups,” Singh said. Assault or murder of thinkers because of disagreement with their views or because of the food they eat or the cause they espouse, can’t be justified, Singh added. “All right thinking persons in country have condemned such incidents in the strongest terms as an assault on nationhood”, he said.
“Unity and respect for diversity, secularism and pluralism are vital for the survival of the republic,” he concluded.
Singh was speaking at the inauguration of a national conference to commemorate the upcoming 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. The conference is named ‘No peace without freedom; no freedom without peace: Securing Nehru’s legacy and India’s future: Agenda for Action’ organised by Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies, New Delhi, ahead of the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru.
The goal of the conference is to develop an agenda for action for securing and strengthening the cornerstone values of the Indian Republic as laid down by Nehru.
Over the last few days, protests over rising intolerance have grown, with 24 more filmmakers returning their awards. Earlier, several writers and intellectuals had returned their awards. Moreover, business leader like Infosys founder Narayan Murthy and Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar Shaw had warned against communal polarisation and attacks on freedom of expression.
Right-wing fringe groups and BJP MPs and MLAs like Giriraj Singh, Kailash Vijaywargiya and others have been making vitriolic statements of late, vitiating the atmosphere. A common theme has been to ask those who criticise the Modi government to ‘go to Pakistan’. A few days ago, none other than Shah Rukh Khan was at the receiving end of such attacks.
Moreover, the Dadri lynching incidents and the killing of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, MM Kalburgi and Govind Pansare has also added fuel to the fire. The government’s response has been to call the protests ‘manufactured’ and a ‘political conspiracy’.
On Thursday, the Congress party under Sonia Gandhi had taken out a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan in protest against growing incidents of intolerance in the country. The day before, a Congress delegation had also met President Pranab Mukherjee.
The Congress had even so far as to assert that the incidents of violence and suppression of free speech have the tacit backing of PM Modi.