The controversial anti-conversion ordinance of the Uttar Pradesh government has transformed the state to, “the epicentre of politics of hate, division and bigotry,” said a letter signed by 104 former IAS officers of India.
The letter, which was released on Tuesday to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, was signed by former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, former Adviser to the Prime Minister TKA Nair, and former Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
The signatories also stated that all politicians, including the CM, need to “re-educate” themselves about the Constitution, which they have sworn to uphold. The 104 IAS officers also demanded that the “illegal ordinance be withdrawn forthwith.”
The letter added, “…UP, once known as the cradle of the Ganga-Jamuna civilisation, has become the epicentre of the politics of hate, division, and bigotry, and institutions of governance are now steeped in communal poison.” It even added that a series of “heinous atrocities” were committed against young Indians, who are seeking to live their lives as “free citizens of a free country.”
The letter also pointed out various instances of minorities being targeted. This includes the case from Moradabad earlier this month where two men were allegedly accosted by the Bajrang Dal, then dragged to a police station and arrested on allegations that one of them had forced a Hindu girl to marry him.
The letter added, “What is inexcusable is the police remained mute as vigilantes harassed and interrogated the innocent couple. (The woman) suffered a miscarriage, possibly as a result of harassment.”
The letter added, “These atrocities, regardless of indignation of Indians devoted to rule of law, continue unabated. The anti-conversion ordinance… is being used as a stick to victimise especially those Indian men who are Muslim and women who dare to exercise their freedom of choice.”
Even last week, the Allahabad High Court had made the same point as it reunited an interfaith couple. They stated that the woman is an adult and has the right to live life on her terms. Last month, the court had passed another order which said: “The interference in a personal relationship would constitute a serious encroachment into the right to freedom of choice of the two individuals.”
This was not ignored by the signatories as it added, “…various High Courts, including the Allahabad High Court, have ruled unequivocally that choosing one’s life partner is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution, the state of UP is blithely undermining that very Constitution.”
The main motto of the ordinance was to target the “love-jihad” crimes, which is the name given to the conspiracy theory that Muslim men seduce Hindu women to convert to their religion. Although the term is not officially recognised by the Centre, it hasn’t stopped other states from passing “anti-love jihad” laws.