Seeing ‘pattern’ of inaction, over 600 scholars write to pm on kathua, unnao rapes – the wire

New Delhi: In solidarity with the retired civil servants who wrote a letter last week to Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding him responsible for the “terrible state of affairs” in Kathua and Unnao, over 600 academics from India and abroad, including Noam Chomsky and Lila Abu-Lughod have also written an open letter to the prime minister expressing their “deep anger and anguish” over these “monstrous crimes” and the effort by the state governments concerned to protect the alleged perpetrators.

“There is little evidence, in government action, of an appreciation of the importance of providing assistance to vulnerable sections of the society – whether through promotional measures aimed at enabling tribals and nomads to have access to forest and common property rights, or through preventive measures aimed at discouraging blatant breaches of the rule of law,” says the letter.


Along with these civil servants and countless other citizens of India and the world at large, we wish to express our deep anger and anguish over the events in Kathua and Unnao and the aftermath of these events; over the efforts, in both cases, of those administering the relevant States to protect the alleged perpetrators of these monstrous crimes; over the subsequent profoundly distasteful efforts of rationalisation, deflection and diversion that have been so much in evidence in the reactions of your party’s spokespersons in the media; and finally over your own prolonged (and by now familiar) silence that was broken only recently with wholly inadequate, platitudinous, and non-specific assurances of justice for the victims.

Kathua and Unnao are not isolated incidents. They are part of a pattern of repeated targeted attacks on minority religious communities, Dalits, tribals and women, in which rape and lynching have been employed as instruments of violence by gau rakshaks and others, in a sequence of events spread across Dadri in Uttar Pradesh (2015), Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir (2015), Bijapur and Sukma in Chhattisgarh (2015-16), Harda in Madhya Pradesh (2016), Latehar in Jharkand (2016), Una in Gujarat (2016), Rohtak in Haryana (2017), Delhi (2017), Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh (2017), and now Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh (2018).

Many of these events have occurred in States with BJP Governments, and all of them after the BJP assumed power at the Centre. This is not to associate violence exclusively with your party and with State governments presided over by your party. But there is an undeniable association with the ruling dispensation.

There is little evidence, in government action, of an appreciation of the importance of providing assistance to vulnerable sections of the society – whether through promotional measures aimed at enabling tribals and nomads to have access to forest and common property rights, or through preventive measures aimed at discouraging blatant breaches of the rule of law. Even the Allahabad High Court on April 12th 2018 observed: “If this is the conduct of the police in the state, whom will a victim approach to register a complaint? If this is the stand you are repeatedly taking then we will be forced to observe in our order that law and order has collapsed in the state”.

New Delhi: In solidarity with the retired civil servants who wrote a letter last week to Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding him responsible for the “terrible state of affairs” in Kathua and Unnao, over 600 academics from India and abroad, including Noam Chomsky and Lila Abu-Lughod have also written an open letter to the prime minister expressing their “deep anger and anguish” over these “monstrous crimes” and the effort by the state governments concerned to protect the alleged perpetrators.

“There is little evidence, in government action, of an appreciation of the importance of providing assistance to vulnerable sections of the society – whether through promotional measures aimed at enabling tribals and nomads to have access to forest and common property rights, or through preventive measures aimed at discouraging blatant breaches of the rule of law,” says the letter.

Along with these civil servants and countless other citizens of India and the world at large, we wish to express our deep anger and anguish over the events in Kathua and Unnao and the aftermath of these events; over the efforts, in both cases, of those administering the relevant States to protect the alleged perpetrators of these monstrous crimes; over the subsequent profoundly distasteful efforts of rationalisation, deflection and diversion that have been so much in evidence in the reactions of your party’s spokespersons in the media; and finally over your own prolonged (and by now familiar) silence that was broken only recently with wholly inadequate, platitudinous, and non-specific assurances of justice for the victims.

Kathua and Unnao are not isolated incidents. They are part of a pattern of repeated targeted attacks on minority religious communities, Dalits, tribals and women, in which rape and lynching have been employed as instruments of violence by gau rakshaks and others, in a sequence of events spread across Dadri in Uttar Pradesh (2015), Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir (2015), Bijapur and Sukma in Chhattisgarh (2015-16), Harda in Madhya Pradesh (2016), Latehar in Jharkand (2016), Una in Gujarat (2016), Rohtak in Haryana (2017), Delhi (2017), Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh (2017), and now Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh (2018).

Many of these events have occurred in States with BJP Governments, and all of them after the BJP assumed power at the Centre. This is not to associate violence exclusively with your party and with State governments presided over by your party. But there is an undeniable association with the ruling dispensation.

There is little evidence, in government action, of an appreciation of the importance of providing assistance to vulnerable sections of the society – whether through promotional measures aimed at enabling tribals and nomads to have access to forest and common property rights, or through preventive measures aimed at discouraging blatant breaches of the rule of law. Even the Allahabad High Court on April 12th 2018 observed: “If this is the conduct of the police in the state, whom will a victim approach to register a complaint? If this is the stand you are repeatedly taking then we will be forced to observe in our order that law and order has collapsed in the state”.