New Delhi: The Government on Wednesday responded to a letter by members of film fraternity, historians and authors to Prime Minister Narendra Modi where they alleged there was a rise in intolerance and said there was no factual basis for claiming that India was losing the image of being a secular and tolerant nation. (Also read: ‘No Mob Lynching Case Reported to us,’ Says Haryana NCM Member)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reacted to rise of mob lynching cases in favour of the open letter saying that “it is the right time” to write to the Prime Minister. “Everyone in this country knows what is going on. I respect all the intellectuals, I feel that whatever they have written is a genuine grievance by the people,” Banerjee told news agency ANI.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said that the Centre was committed to upholding the constitutional values and rule of law in the country. The MHA response came on the day that Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy told the Rajya Sabha that there had been a decline in incidents of communal violence after 2014, when Prime Minister Modi was voted to power at the Centre.

To bolster his argument that communal violence incidents were fewer since the NDA Government took charge, Reddy said that while 823 incidents of communal violence took place in 2013, the number fell to 708 in 2018.

When Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue of mob lynching, the minister said there was no pattern to such incidents. He pointed out that incidents of mob lynching had taken place in West Bengal and Kerala as well and those are not Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states.

Earlier, members of the film fraternity had written an open letter to Prime Minister Modi alleging that incidents of mob lynching were on the rise and urged him to take urgent steps to tackle the menace.

The letter had cited a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) that there had been at least “840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions”. They demanded for “lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately”.

It also alleged that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has been turned into “a provocative war cry”. The letter was signed by filmmakers Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Shyam Benegal, actress Konkona Sensharma and historian Ramchandra Guha, among others. (Manish Shukla)