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Shashi Tharoor expresses concern over FIR against activists, urges PM Modi to uphold freedom of expression

FE Online

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressing concern over the FIR against 49 activists who had written an open letter to the PM in July. The Thiruvananthapuram MP said that he was deeply disturbed by the FIR against Indian citizens who were trying to highlight the rise of mob lynching in India.

In July, 49 activists, fimmakers and artists had written an open letter to PM Modi expressing concerns over the rise in number of mob lynchings. Among the signatories were historian Ramchandra Guha, eminent directors Adoor Gopalkrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap and actors Aparna Sen, Konkona Sensharma. The letter urged PM Modi to take action against the perpetrators of such mob lynchings. The activists had also expressed regret over how the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ had become a war slogan.

Tharoor posted the two-page letter on social media urging PM Modi to affirm the constitutional principle of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. "As citizens of India we hope that every one of us can fearlessly bring to your notice issues of national importance, so that you can take the lead to address them. We would like to believe that you too would support the right to freedom of expression, so that the ‘mann ki baat’ of well meaning citizens of India does not turn into a ‘maun ki baat’," Shashi Tharoor wrote.

The Congress MP also wrote about the rise of mob lynchings in India. "Mob lynching, whether trigged by communal or triggered by rumours child kidnapping has become a disease that is spreading rapidly," Tharoor wrote. Tharoor added that the activists had done the right thing by bringing forth this important issue.

The FIR against the activists was filed last week at Muzaffarpur in Bihar. The petition claimed that by writing the open letter, the activists had "tarnished the image of the country and undermined the impressive performance of the prime minister" besides "supporting secessionist tendencies".

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has also lashed out at the BJP government, saying that anybody who says anything against the Narendra Modi government was being put behind bars. "Everybody knows what is going on in the country. It's not a secret. In fact the whole world knows it. We are moving into an authoritarian state. It's pretty clear," the Wayanad MP said.