NEW DELHI: Leaders of 13 opposition parties on Saturday expressed their deep concern over recent incidents of hate speech and community violence in the country, urging people to maintain peace and harmony.
In a joint statement, leaders including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, NCP chair Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Prime Minister Mama Banerjee and their counterparts from Tamil Nadu and Jarkhand MK Stalin and Hemant Soren also expressed their concerns about the way issues related to food, clothing, religion, festivals and language are “deliberately used by the government to polarize society”.
They also called for tougher punishments for perpetrators of public violence in the country.
“We are appalled by the Prime Minister’s silence in not speaking out against the words and actions of those who promote bigotry and those who incite and provoke our society with their words and actions,” the joint statement said. .
“This silence is eloquent testimony that such privately armed mobs enjoy the luxury of official patronage.”
Opposition leaders reaffirmed their collective determination to work together to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that have “defined and enriched India for centuries”: “We reaffirm our commitment to combating and confronting the toxic ideologies that seek to deepen divisions within our society in order to consolidate “
“We call on all walks of life to maintain peace and thwart the evil aims of those who wish to deepen social polarization. We call on all our party units across the country to work independently and collectively to maintain peace and harmony,” the joint complaint said.
Incidents of public violence were reported from several parts of the country on the occasion of Ram Nawami on April 10.
There is also sharp disagreement over the hijab dispute in Karnataka and other parts of the country and violence on the JNU campus for serving non-veg meals at the Ram Navami hostel.
“We are deeply concerned by how issues around food, clothing, religion, festivals and language are being deliberately used by parts of the power to polarize our society,” the statement said.
“We are deeply concerned by the increasing cases of hate speech in this country by people who appear to have official patronage and against whom no meaningful and decisive action is being taken,” the joint statement said.
Regarding recent incidents of community violence, they said: “We are deeply concerned as reports suggest there is a remarkable pattern in the areas where these incidents occur. Intense hate speech preceded aggressively armed religious marches that unleashed community violence.
They also expressed their pain to see how social media and audiovisual platforms “abuse official patronage to spread hatred and prejudice.”
Opposition leaders say they are reaffirming their belief that the country will only thrive if it respects, protects and fully celebrates its extraordinary diversity.
Also among the signatories of the joint statement were: Secretary General of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechuri, President of the National Conference Farouk Abdullah, RJD Leader Tejaswi Yadav, Secretary General of the Communist Party of India D. Raja, General Secretary of India Biswas, Secretary General of the Revolutionary Socialist Party Manoj Bhatacharya, Secretary General of IUML PK Kunhalikuti and Secretary General of the Communist Party of India (ML) – Dipanker Bhatacharya Liberation.
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