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Modi faces mail mountain in sedition protest

Kerala SFI, DYFI post 1.5 lakh copies of open letter to PMO

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore

  • Published 8.10.19, 1:52 AM
  • Updated 8.10.19, 1:52 AM
Both the SFI and the DYFI printed hard copies of the original letter, on which their members wrote their names and added their signatures before sending them by ordinary post to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi.
Both the SFI and the DYFI printed hard copies of the original letter, on which their members wrote their names and added their signatures before sending them by ordinary post to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi. (AP Photo)

Leftist students and youth activists from Kerala have protested the sedition case lodged against a group of filmmakers and others by mailing to the Prime Minister tens of thousands of copies of the open letter these eminent personalities had written to Narendra Modi in July.

Members of the Students Federation of India and the Democratic Youth Federation of India, the student and youth organisations of the CPM, have dared the BJP to book them in similar cases.

“We (SFI members) have already sent one lakh copies to the Prime Minister by post,” SFI state secretary K.M. Sachin Dev told The Telegraph on Monday.

A.A. Rahim, DYFI state secretary, said members of his organisation had mailed at least 50,000 copies to the Prime Minister.

Forty-nine citizens, who included renowned filmmakers, actors, artistes and scholars, had in the open letter expressed concern at the rise in “lynchings of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities” and the conversion of the “Jai Shri Ram” chant into a “provocative war cry”. They had questioned the lack of action from Modi.

Last week, a Bihar court got a sedition FIR registered against 9 among the 49: filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Aparna Sen and Mani Ratnam, actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Konkona Sen Sharma and Revathi, classical singer Shubha Mudgal and historian Ramachandra Guha.

Forty-five unidentified people — apparently the 40 other signatories and five activists who had supported them in public — have also been mentioned as defendants in the case.

The FIR was registered in Muzaffarpur on the orders of chief judicial magistrate Surya Kant Tiwari on a plea from local advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha, who accused the defendants of tarnishing the country’s image.

Both the SFI and the DYFI printed hard copies of the original letter, on which their members wrote their names and added their signatures before sending them by ordinary post to the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi.

“We managed to meet the target (of mailing one lakh copies) so quickly as all our units (educational institutions) responded very well in spite of the Puja holidays. Whatever extra copies our members manage to send will be a bonus,” Dev said.

“This campaign is against the anti-democratic BJP, which filed cases against some of our best-known and most respected intellectuals and artistes who had only made a point without insulting anyone or any party.”

Rahim, the DYFI state secretary, said: “I’m sure we will meet the target of one lakh soon after the holidays.”

He added: “The case against our intellectuals is part of a larger plan to destroy our Constitution and its values. By denying the rights enshrined in the Constitution, the BJP and the RSS are planning to silence those who speak against their fascist policies.”

Rahim underscored that Modi, known for his impenetrable silence on uncomfortable subjects, had not uttered a word about the end-July open letter from the 49.

He explained the point of the campaign: “If they feel the 49 signatories are traitors, please go ahead and book all of us who have sent the same letter. We are ready to fill the jails for this cause,” he said.

Former chief minister and CPM veteran V.S. Achuthanandan too had protested after the case was registered in Muzaffarpur.

“India is now realising that its hard-fought freedom is not safe in the hands of dictators…. This is the time for each Indian to react,” he wrote on Facebook.

Gopalakrishnan had said last week: “We wrote that letter in the belief that democracy is in place. In the normal sense, the government should take it into consideration and find solutions.”

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