Women write open letter to PM Modi over hate speeches

Thakur and Verma have both been issued notices by the Election Commission over the controversial remarks made by them.

New Delhi: More than 170 activists and women’s groups, on Monday, sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing “horror” over the alleged hate speeches made by BJP leaders and accused them of using “fear of rape as a campaign message” during the ongoing Delhi poll rallies.

In the letter, the groups alleged that statements made by the BJP leaders urging their followers to inflict violence on women protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the National Population Register (NPR) have created an “atmosphere of violence.”

Prominent among the signatories include feminist economist Devaki Jain, activist Laila Tyabji, former Indian ambassador Madhu Bhaduri, gender rights activist Kamla Bhasin, and groups like the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW).

“Repeated hate speech is being made by election campaigners of BJP, using fear of rape as a campaign message and urging their followers to inflict violence on peaceful women protesting against the CAA-NRC-NPR.

“What is this kind of communal hate and fear-mongering that you, as the head of government, are encouraging, that seeks to make women of all communities feel more insecure and threatened? Vote for BJP or you will get raped! Is this your election message to Delhi’s women? Is this how low your party has sunk?” the letter asked.

Referring to BJP MP Parvesh Verma’s statement, the letter asked the Prime Minister if the BJP is now “openly endangering the lives of India’s women and children?”

Highlighting the statement made by Union minister Anurag Thakur, where he exhorted a crowd to “shoot the traitors” and comments made by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath who said “boli se nahi toh goli se maanenge” (if they don’t understand through words, we will make them understand through bullets), the letter said that the “traitors” here were peacefully protesting.

“We speak to you as women of this country —Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, adivasi, and dalit—who are horrified at the atmosphere of violence” the letter said.

The groups further said they feared a government that directs its security forces to attack peacefully protesting students, elected members who openly threaten ordinary citizens, and a police force that stands by and watches as people inspired by “hate-filled rhetoric” indulge in acts of violence.

Urging the Prime Minister to speak out against such targeted violence and hate speech, the letter sought immediate action—including under all relevant criminal provisions of the penal code—against “these violence mongering members of the BJP.”

“You need to fight the Delhi election in a manner that upholds the dignity of our Constitution and ensures the security of India’s women,” it said.

Mr Thakur and Mr Verma have both been issued notices by the Election Commission (EC) over the controversial remarks made by them.

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