Magsaysay award winner and former Navy chief admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas has written an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, denouncing the several attacks on minorities and Dalits that have occurred, of late.

Ramdas won the Magsaysay award for peace in 2004 for his effort to demilitarize and denuclearize South Asia.

Terming his upbringing as one based on "Hindu faith," Ramdas wrote the Hinduism he knew and experienced was "gentle, inclusive, and filled with extraordinary diversity" that taught him "values of love and respect for all beings."

"My brand of Hinduism was not filled with the kind of violence, intolerance represented by the current brand of 'Hindutva' that seems to be fanning the flames of division and fear across the country," he further wrote.

Putting the example of his experience in the Indian army for 45 years, which he believes symbolizes "secular ethos," and taught him, to "train, fight, live, eat and die together" he wrote that the recent acts of violence forces him to hang his head in shame.

In his letter, Ramdas asked the reason why minorities across India are witnessing increasing attacks on them "ever since the present government came to power in May 2014?"

"It appears that certain communities are being singled out for special attention – for instance Muslims. Today a Muslim has to prove his or her loyalty, and they are being repeatedly put in a situation where their places of worship are under attack, as indeed their eating habits, and other basic freedoms," he wrote.

Calling RSS and its motive of creating a "Hindu Rashtra in India" as a "systematic and well orchestrated attempt," Ramdas also wrote that this trend has led to a "dangerous pattern of mob behaviour including intimidating and lynching people merely on the basis of rumours – in total disregard for the established rule of law."

The former Naval-serviceman criticized the response of the government as "an almost studied, but certainly not benign, indifference."

"The coordinated response of those in government seems to be to downplay the serious and vicious nature of these allegations and attacks – by terming them 'sad' and 'unfortunate' – whereas there should be outrage and a demonstrated will to ensure that this society will not tolerate such behaviour. That there are MPs, Cabinet ministers and elected Chief Ministers who are in the forefront of these comments and actions, leads one to believe that the ruling party and its satellite organisations are working to a plan," he wrote.

Ramdas further wrote that instead of treating the minorities as "an amazing diversity as our strength, today we are being seen by the international community as increasingly insular, parochial, intolerant, racist and even fascist."

He also pointed out that these acts are only reinforcing India's image "as an imperfect democracy where all forms of dissent are discouraged and human rights trampled upon with impunity."

"Indeed we the people of India look to you to take all steps necessary to restore faith in our democracy and in the promise of bringing dignity, fraternity and equality to each of our citizens," he wrote.

Read the full open letter here.

 

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