"We stand in solidarity with the students and others who are protesting and speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC)," read the letter signed by a slew of people from the film fraternity.
The ongoing protests all over the country have seen a number of Bollywood celebrities standing together with the protestors including Swara Bhaskar, Mohd Zeeshan Ayub among others. Now, a lot of over 300 film people including veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah, his wife Ratna Pathak Shah, Jaaved Jafferi have become signatories to an open letter extending solidarity with the students who have been vocal about the recently enacted CAA, 2019 and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
'A plural and diverse society'
In their open letter, the coterie saluted the collective and continuous effort being put in by the students for "upholding the principles of the Constitution of India, with its promise of a plural and diverse society."
"We are aware that we have not always lived up to that promise, and many of us have too often remained silent in the face of injustice. The gravity of this moment demands that each of us stand for our principles," the body added.
Addressing the group as the member of the Creative and Scholarly Community in India, the artists, filmmakers, writers and scholars in the open letter wrote, "We offer our dreams to everyone. But what dream can show us the way in the midst of the present nightmare?"
They continued that their vision for this nation demands them to raise voices now in the name of the democracy, our country is. "We are aware that we have not always lived up to that promise, and many of us have too often remained silent in the face of injustice. The gravity of this moment demands that each of us stand for our principles," it added.
The collective letter penned by artists also including Nandita Das and Mira Nair called the latest policy by the government "unethical to principle of a secular, inclusive nation."
"The soul of the nation is threatened. The livelihoods and statehoods of millions of our fellow Indians are at stake. Under the NRC, anyone unable to produce documentation (which, in many cases, does not exist) to prove their ancestry may be rendered stateless," the letter further read.
They questioned the exclusion of are minorities from other neighbours like Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar and again raised a question mark, which said, 'Is it because the ruling powers in these latter countries are not Muslim? It appears that the legislation believes that only Muslim governments can be perpetrators of religious persecution. Why exclude the most persecuted minorities in the region,the Rohingya of Myanmar or the Uighurs of China?"
The open letter clearly states that the aim of this legislation is clear that "Muslims are unwelcome."
"India has seen the most Internet shutdowns of any democracy in the world. Police brutality has left hundreds injured, including many students from Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University. Several citizens have been killed while protesting," it added.
Secular and inclusive India
Breaking their silence after a long duration of silence, the celebrity group now stands "for a secular and inclusive vision of India." "We stand with those who bravely oppose anti-Muslim and divisive policies. We stand with those who stand up for democracy. We will be with you on our streets and across all our platforms. We are in solidarity," they said in the letter.
Deepika Padukone's JNU visit
The anti-CAA protests have rocked the nation for over a month now. Earlier this month, actress Deepika Padukone was caught in a controversy over her surprise visit to the JNU campus, just before the release of her film 'Chhapaak'.