Condemn calls for violence despite religious, ideological origins: Ex-IFS officers

New Delhi: Days after a number of prominent citizens, including former chiefs of armed forces, sought action against hate speeches given at Haridwar, a group of former IFS officers on Wednesday accused them of running a “sustained smear campaign” against the government and said such condemnation must be universal, not selective.

All calls for violence must be unequivocally condemned regardless of their religious, ethnic, ideological or regional origin, and any double standard and selectivity in condemnation raises questions about motives and morality, the group of 32 ex-Indian Foreign Service officers, including Kanwal Sibal, Veena Sikri and Lakshmi Puri, said in an open letter.

A group of activists, many of them known Leftists with sympathies for Maoists, joined by some former civil servants and armed forces veterans, who have held highest positions in their careers, as well as some sections of the media, have been conducting a sustained smear campaign against the present government on its presumed violations of the secular ethos of the country, they alleged.

“This has taken effectively an increasingly anti-Hindu tenor under the guise of anti-Hindutva. The latter has become a convenient peg for ‘secular’ posturing, adopting virtue-signalling ‘constitutional’ positions, relying on bloated vocabulary of ‘Nazism’ and ‘genocide’ to gather international attraction and leverage it to bring odium to the Modi government,” they claimed.

Earlier, five former chiefs of the armed forces and a number of other prominent citizens, including bureaucrats, had written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the recent incidents of hate speeches and urged them to take appropriate measures.

In a letter, the group of over 100 people also referred to the anti-Muslim comments made at an event in Haridwar recently and condemned “in no uncertain terms” such “incitement” to violence.

In their counter-letter, the group of former IFS officers acknowledged that the remarks made at the Haridwar event should be condemned by all right thinking, before adding that when the import of these is “exaggerated out of all proportion and the rantings by fringe elements” are seen as representative of the sentiments prevailing in ruling circles, then the political leanings and moral integrity of the critics can be rightly questioned.

“All these attacks on the government have been completely one-sided and skewed. They seek to blame the government for every statement made by any group anywhere in the country which uses the name ‘Hindu’. Secondly, these arm-chair critics choose to ignore or dismiss equally virulent calls for violence and threats of violence made by not merely fringe groups, but by mainstream political figures in other communities,” they said.

Slamming those who wrote to the president and the prime minister, they said, “Does this reflect some frustration at not having obtained what they may have aspired for as recognition and reward from the government after superannuation, or is it that they made a discovery of their hitherto dormant political affiliations only after retirement? Are they investing in a potential political change at the Centre?”

It is not as if these well-informed individuals are unaware that communal divide and religious violence have existed in the country since Independence and before, and did not suddenly emerge after 2014, they added.

“India’s national security is not as much threatened, in the eyes of the signatories to the appeal, by Pakistan and China as by a handful of sundry Hindu activists saying some nasty things about the minorities in some forum of little importance and aggressively asserting their Hindu identity,” they said.

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