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'No Question of Maligning Ram's Image': Shyam Benegal After Backlash Over Letter to PM Modi

Benegal was one of the signatories to the earlier letter decrying the use of 'Jai Shri Ram' as 'war cry' and highlighted the spike in violence against minorities.


Updated:July 26, 2019, 7:43 PM IST
'No Question of Maligning Ram's Image': Shyam Benegal After Backlash Over Letter to PM Modi
File photo of filmmaker Shyam Benegal (PTI)

New Delhi: Dismissing allegations that a letter written by 49 noted personalities to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was an attack on Hinduism, noted film director Shyam Benegal on Friday said the communication did not malign the image of Ram in any way. Benegal was one of the signatories to the letter.

“Lord Ram is the foundational figure of our country. Where is the question of maligning the image?” Benegal told CNN-News18 in an interview.

The letter, made public on Wednesday, was signed by noted personalities like Aparna Sen and Adoor Gopalakrishnan. “Dear Prime Minister... the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately," it said. "We were shocked to learn from the NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) reports that there have been no less than 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions.”

The letter decried the use of the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ as a “war cry”, saying it “leads to law and order problems, and many lynchings take place in its name”.

In respond, 61 noted citizens on Friday wrote another letter to Modi criticising the “selective outrage and false narratives”. The latest letter has been signed by actor Kangana Ranaut, classical dancer and MP Sonal Mansingh, instrumentalist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, among others.

Benegal clarified that the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan had got a certain 'colouring' during the Ayodhya Ram temple agitation. “Then it got a certain kind of colouring and became a call to action,” he said.

“We are a democratic nation and we should bring down tension,” Benegal said, adding that communities should not be pitted against one another and the law should protect all.

Benegal said the letter had stated that although Modi has spoken in Parliament about violence against minorities, action should be taken on the ground.

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