Silence is not an option: Journalists to India’s Constitutional institutions

Senior journalists appeal for action against hate speech and open calls for genocide

Hate speech

Some of India’s most respected journalists have come together to condemn the silence of India’s Constitutional institutions in face of a marked increase in hate speech and even open calls for genocide.

In a joint statement titled In the Face of Orchestrated Hatred, Silence Is Not an Option, journalists such as N. Ram (former Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu & Director, The Hindu Publishing Group), Mrinal Pande (Senior Journalist and Writer), R. Rajagopal (Editor, The Telegraph), R Vijayasankar (Editor, Frontline), Q. W. Naqvi (Chairman & MD, Satya Hindi), Ashutosh (Editorial Director, Satya Hindi), Vinod Jose (Executive Editor, Caravan), Siddharth Vardarajan, Siddharth Bhatia and MK Venu (Founder Editors, The Wire), Aziz Tankarvi (Publisher, Gujarat Today), Ravindra Ambekar (Director, MaxMaharashtra), R.K. Radhakrishnan (Senior Journalist), Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand (Co-Editor, Sabrangindia) and many others have expressed shock at the complete lack of action by these institutions.

They say, “As journalists and media persons from all over India, we make this Appeal to all Indian institutions to step in and uphold their constitutional mandate in the wake of open calls from various quarters for attacks on India’s religious minorities, especially Muslims,” adding, “The concerted amplification of hatred has been growing over the past years and months, as has the attendant advocacy of violence. Sometimes, the occasion is an election, at other times it is a political gathering, a so-called ‘dharam sansad’, or a controversy over clothing, or even the screening of a movie.”

The have condemned the “cold and calculated silence from the country’s top leaders” in face of a glaring attempt to vilify minorities and identified some of the following instances:

  • systematic hate being propagated against Muslims under the pretext of Covid-19, including calls by legislators for their socio-economic boycott and coining of the infamous term “Corona Jihad”
  • well-synchronised calls for the annihilation of Muslims made at various Dharm Sansads
  • systematic targeting of Muslim women and girls in 2021 and 2022 through social media platforms, and “auction apps” like S**li Deals and B**li Bai
  • controversy over the hijab in Karnataka that resulted in Muslim women in different parts of India being harassed and humiliated

They have also pointed out the failure of the Election Commission of India to act to control inflammatory speeches made during election campaigns. “During the election campaign of February and March 2022, we saw the repeated appeal to divisive hatred and the stigmatising of Muslims and other minorities, with ‘star’ campaigners from the ruling party unashamedly breaking the law to seek votes in the name of religion,” said the journalists.

They have also condemned the manner in which The Kashmir Files “a film that cynically exploits the suffering and tragedy of the Kashmiri Pandits by using their plight as a pretext for the promotion of hatred against Muslims – has seen orchestrated attempts inside and outside movie halls to incite anti-Muslim sentiment. Attempts have been made from the highest levels of government to stifle fully justified criticism of the film and of the violent reaction it is generating by claiming there is a “conspiracy” afoot to “discredit” it.”

The share their apprehensions saying, “When all these events are taken together, it is clear that a dangerous hysteria is being built up countrywide to push the idea that “Hinduism is in danger” and to portray Muslim Indians as a threat to Hindu Indians and to India itself. Only prompt and effective action by our constitutional, statutory, and democratic institutions can challenge, contain, and stop this disturbing trend.”

They further say, “India today stands at a dangerous place, with the founding values of our secular, democratic, and republican Constitution coming under flagrant assault from prejudiced ideas, acts of prejudice, discrimination, and violent incidents, all planned and orchestrated as part of an anti-constitutional political project. That we have seen elected officials and others who have sworn an oath under the Constitution amplifying some of these multiple and connected instances of orchestrated hate through acts of commission and omission, with sections of the media assisting this project, makes the situation even more urgent.”

The journalists have, therefore, appealed to all of India’s constitutional institutions, and especially the President, the higher judiciary, and the Election Commission, to “discharge their mandate under our Constitution and that the media perform their responsibility to the people of India by asserting their independence and speaking truth to power.”

The entire statement may be read here: 



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