New Delhi, Apr 16: Amid growing public outrage over the barbaric gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and sexual assault of another young girl in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, a collective of retired civil servants wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre had “failed in performing the most basic of the responsibilities given to it”. Ex-bureaucrats blamed “aggression promoted by the Sangh Parivar” for what had happened in Kathua and Unnao.

In a strongly worded letter to PM Narendra Modi, the 49 signatories called the current situation a “moment of existential crisis” and said the government response would determine whether the nation could “overcome the crisis of constitutional values, of governance and the ethical order”. They said the government failed to reassure minorities and vulnerable sections of society “that they need not fear for their life and liberty”. The retired civil servants, who addressed the letter as “citizens” with “no affiliations”, also held PM Modi responsible for the current situation.

“In both cases, prime minister, it is your party which is in power. Given your supremacy within the party and the centralised control you and your party president exercise, you more than anyone else have to be held responsible for this terrifying state of affairs….” they said. The retired civil servants also asked PM Modi to apologise to the families of the Kathua and Unnao victims. They did not spare the serving bureaucrats either, saying they “seem to have failed in their duty”.

The letter further said, “The bestiality and the barbarity involved in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old child shows the depths of depravity that we have sunk into. In post-independence India, this is our darkest hour and we find the response of our government, the leaders of our political parties inadequate and feeble. At this juncture, we see no light at the end of the tunnel and we hang our heads in shame. Our sense of shame is all the more acute because some of our younger colleagues… also seem to have failed in their duty.”

Those who signed the letter include former coal secretary Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan, former police chiefs Meera Borwankar and Julio Rebeiro, former foreign secretary Nareshwar Dayal, former Indian ambassador to Italy K P Fabian and former health secretary Sujatha Rao.