Is this your New India for us, Modiji?

Is this your New India for us, Modiji?

An Open Letter to the PM

Parts of Delhi are in shambles, and when the victims return from hospitals, their homes, or what remains of them, will be covered in soot, some will have lost their families and will have nobody to turn to.

Dear Prime Minister,

I remember, as a young girl, for almost 12 years I stood in one school assembly after another and took the pledge — “All Indians are my brothers and sisters.” Now, I wonder why they made us take that pledge when this was the India — your ‘New India’ — that I was going to inherit. Explain to me, Messrs Shah and Modi, how one should sit on the sidelines and watch one’s brothers and sisters die. I am new to this, I spent my nights waiting anxiously for Delhi Police to take control of the situation, holding out hope that the coming hour would be the last. I spent my nights trying not to think of the horrors that my brothers and sisters in Delhi were witnessing, while their homes were set ablaze, while the city was coloured red with blood and bricks, while policemen did not come to their aid after repeated phone calls, while mosques were vandalised, while journalists were assaulted, while mortuaries were spilling over with inconsolable relatives. I spent my nights in guilt because the calm of Bengaluru seemed undeserved. The birds chirped outside my window in the morning and this only increased the guilt of my privilege. Tell me Modiji, did you feel like that, too?

For almost three days, mobs wielding rods, sticks and guns roamed the country’s capital, and the rest of the country watched helplessly as the death toll rose with every passing hour. In a cruel juxtaposition of images, while one part of the city submitted to violence, there was a celebration happening – in your part of the same city. Home Minister Amit Shah met with the Delhi Chief Minister, IPS officers, the commissioner of police, et al, three times in 24 hours, and yet all these powerful people did not think to establish safe passage for medical supplies to hospitals in the affected areas.

I sat at home and watched multiple SOS messages landing in my notifications from Al-Hind Hospital, Mustafabad. People were bleeding out in front of the doctor’s eyes, with no help coming — ambulances were not reaching the injured. That is until the Delhi High Court intervened and ordered that Delhi Police utilise all its resources to help provide a safe passage for resources to reach the injured and dying. Did the High Court have to intervene? Doctors and citizens had been making calls to Delhi Police continuously. Why did they not respond? If they were stretched thin, did your government not provide enough force to maintain law and order? Did the Home Minister not take the matter seriously? If you haven’t asked these questions yet, why haven’t you?

You have said many times that you are a proud citizen of a diverse country and that you are grateful that you have the opportunity to serve it. I love India because of its compassion, the Constitution’s commitment to equality of its people, and because of its diversity. Every citizen is bestowed with fundamental rights, and it is important to understand that your duty does not end at saying that. The State is obligated to maintain an environment where its citizens can exercise these rights. In Delhi, in the past three days, the most basic and inalienable right—the right to life—did not find fertile ground for the citizenry to exercise it. In that sense, you and your ministers have failed India, irretrievably for those 38 people who have died and the torture and trauma that hundreds of others have suffered in Delhi.

As for the men around you, Amit Shah publicly claimed that remarks made by Anurag Thakur (goli maro saalon ko…) should not have been made. He claimed that the “party has distanced itself from such remarks.” What action did your party take, Modiji? Anurag Thakur is a Member of Parliament, he is the Minister of State for Finance, he has not been demoted, he has not even been asked to issue a public apology. Is this distance?

Parvesh Verma was allowed to make the horrendous remarks against the Muslim community as a whole that squarely falls in the category of “promoting enemity between communities”. What did you do? You made him lead your party’s charge in Parliament!

Not to forget Yogi Adityanath’s “boli se nahi manega toh goli se toh maan hi jayega” (Those who won’t listen to words will heed to bullets).” You not only did not take any action against Adityanath but also invited him to welcome Donald Trump.

Prakash Javadekar blamed Congress and AAP for the violence. If that is the case, register FIRs, let the law take its course, we want any rioters to be punished. But to convert it into a political mudslinging contest over the graves of dead people — which seems to be your party’s strategy — is shameful, to say the least.

Another of your Union ministers, Giriraj Singh, said recently, “Before 1947, Jinnah pushed for an Islamic nation…If at that time all Muslim brothers had been sent there and all Hindus brought here, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” You once said in Parliament that “Gandhi is your life”. Noble sentiment. But how would he have felt if he could hear Giriraj Singh’s words after 73 years of Independence?

Calling for peace and calm in a tweet, that too belatedly, after the damage has been done, is not enough, Modiji. These words of your party men and government ministers, and indeed your own during many election campaigns, have built and are building a narrative that has put India on edge.

The reason why so many of us young protesters bring up the ‘Idea of India’ is that we are going through an identity crisis, because of these horrific words and of the polarising narrative that has become our reality.

Parts of Delhi are in shambles, and when the victims return from hospitals, their homes, or what remains of them, will be covered in soot, some will have lost their families and will have nobody to turn to. Will you have the courage to meet them and console them? How will you heal their scars? I am asking because, according to a pledge that I took for years in school, they are my brothers and sisters.

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