170 academics, writers, film makers, journalists, activists, and other public intellectuals drawn from several countries have expressed their strong protest against the charges of criminal offence brought against political psychologist and sociologist Ashis Nandy over an editorial page article written by him in The Times of India in January this year, in the aftermath of Narendra Modi‘s victory in the Gujarat elections.
“This is the latest case of harassment of intellectuals, journalists, artists, and public figures by anti-democratic forces that claim to speak on behalf of Hindu values sometimes and patriotism at other times, especially in Gujarat, but who have little understanding of either.
“What is pernicious in this case is that the charge of criminal offence against Nandy levied under Section 153 (A) and (B) for his newspaper article “Blame the Middle Classes,” was brought by the head of the Gujarat Branch of the National Council of Civil Liberties.
“The State Government of Gujarat, by giving its permission for filing the case, has shown its own complicity in the case.
“It seems part of the strategy of the most intolerant sections of Indian society today to make a cynical use the language of civil liberties to achieve ends that are the opposite of what the aspirations to civil liberties and the struggles over them represent… We demand that all the charges against Professor Nandy be immediately dropped.
“We understand that there is a great deal of anxiety in Gujarat today about its lost honour. It might help to remind ourselves that this honour or asmita will not be gained by acts of violence and intimidation but by recovering or discovering the humanity of each other. Gujarat can and will regain its own destiny by remembering the politics of nonviolence, as one of its sons by the name of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi once taught the nation and the world.”
Also read: ‘A disgraceful assault on media freedom’