Karnataka: 75 write to CM raising concerns about peace and harmony

As many as 75 activists, writers, academicians, journalists, artists, Professors, historians and retired civil service officers issued an open letter and addressed the Karnataka Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai to raise “Concerns about peace and harmony within Karnataka and the urgent need to restore the state to a “sarva janangada shantiya thota”. The letter urged the government to act on five points. After failing to get CM’s appointment for over a month, they said they chose to pen an open letter to him.

The letter at its start acknowledged the communal harmony of the Kannada state even before it formation in 1956. It addressed the history of Karnataka, its co-existence with all religions and followers of the religions, the 12th Century poet-philosopher Basaveshwara’s efforts towards social and religious reform, whose work is a ” testimony to the peaceful co-existence here of communities, including Hindus and Muslims, over centuries”, it also mentioned Rashtra Kavi Kuvempu’s Naada Geethe, state anthem which addressed “this land as “sarva janangada shantiya thota” – a garden of peace for diverse communities – nearly a century ago.”

It said that people from all walks of life and from various backgrounds have come to the cosmopolitan state making it a magnet attracting “creative and innovative minds from across the country”, the letter said these people absorbed the values of Karnataka and contributed to the state’s development in various fields.

The letter said that given the glorious background of the Karnataka State, “the recent spate of attacks of various kinds aimed at Muslim, Christian and Dalit communities has shocked and upset those who pride themselves on Karnataka’s receptive and inclusive nature”.

The letter said that people holding office in the government, who take an oath on the Constitution to abide by it, violate the very fundamentals of the Constitution.

“The current spate of divisive actions aimed at alienating particular communities and denying them their fundamental rights will not only hamper development but also hurt our state’s reputation, hinder progress and innovation”, it also said that this will “erode the confidence of entrepreneurs and investors, heighten insecurity, suspicion, fear and resentment among citizens, and cause harm to all sections of society, while also threatening the integrity of our nation.”

The letter said that “It is not possible to “Make in India” in a climate where people are “Scared in India” and even “Scarred in India.”

The letter highlighted that on the occasion of Basavanna Jayanti on 3rd May the State celebrated it but it would have heartening if it would have extended greetings for Eid, which was celebrated on the same day.

It also gave a five pointer directions to the state and urged the CM to act accordingly,

  1. It urged the State to direct its “police force to do its Constitutional duty to uphold the law, safeguard vulnerable citizens and guarantee that victims of crimes, including communal and casteist hate crimes, have full access to justice, and also that witnesses can come forward to testify, confident that they will receive due protection.”
  2. It said that “In the event of communal conflict resulting in violence as well as loss of lives and livelihoods,” appropriate action must be taken to ensure peace and harmony.
  3. It asked the State to take action against perpetrates of Hate Speech and those who call for violence and social and economic boycotts.
  4. It urged the State to take “immediate cognisance of and stand up publicly against the misinformation and false stories about minorities that are regularly being circulated now” publicly and on various forms of media.
  5. It also urged the government to not let certain sections media enjoy impunity who openly stoke “the fires of division and discord by promoting intolerance, hatred and violence, and spreading fake news and false rumours, to immediately stop such malpractice.”

The letter included that acting upon these proactive steps will send a clear message that people indulging in violence or fomenting will not be tolerated and they will be punished.

It also included, “We believe the restoration of communal harmony is an important and urgent task” and hoped that this government “will not wish to go down in history as the one that precipitated a steep downturn in the reputation and fortunes of our state through inaction.”

The signatories 75 people, including retired civil servants, writers, artists and academics like Yellappa Reddy, Indian Forest Service (retd), Ravivarma Kumar (former Advocate General, Karnataka), Chiranjiv Singh, IAS (retd), Ajai Kumar Singh IPS (retd), Raghunandan IAS (retd), Shashi Deshpande (writer), Vaidehi (writer), Girish Kasaravalli (film maker) and Ramchandra Guha (historian).

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