A group of 34 people, including writers, academicians, scientists, environmentalists and artists, among others, have written a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and legislators expressing concern over what they called deteriorating governance and frequent violence against religious minorities in the state. The signatories of the letter include historians Ramachandra Guha and Prof. Janaki Nair; environmentalists Nagesh Hegde, Almitra Patel; sociologists AR Vasavi and Prof Satish Deshpande; scientists Prof Sharadchandra Lele, Prof Vinod Gaur and Prof Vidyanand Nanjundiah; writers Vivek Shanbhag, Purushottam Bilimale and KP Suresha, and activist Bezwada Wilson, among others.
They have said that in the last few months, the state has witnessed brutal killings in several districts, hate speeches, threats and attacks on places of worship belonging to religious minorities, honour killings, moral policing, misogynistic statements by legislators, and incidents of hostility and discord between religious groups. "Un-constitutional statements made by legislators and the inability of the State machinery to rein in anti-social groups have encouraged such incidents," they have stated.
Stating that such incidents have put a blot on the long history of Karnataka as a progressive state, which always facilitated social harmony of a plural society, the signatories said it is now losing its identity on multiple fronts. "On the financial, administrative, and political fronts, Karnataka is losing its federal strength."
Further pointing at recent legislations such as the 'cow protection' and anti-conversion Acts, they said they are anti-minority and infringes on the economic and cultural rights of religious minorities. "No longer are harmony, peace, and tolerance the hallmarks of the State."
Warning that if these issues are not addressed, Karnataka's reputation as a destination for investment and industries might also get affected, they said economic activities can thrive when there is social harmony and cordial atmosphere.
Urging the Chief Minister and the legislators to seriously review these negative incidents in the state and to ensure that the rule of law, the principles of the Constitution, the rights of citizens, and the basic sense of humanity is re-established, the signatories said, your abilities to address these challenges will be the yardstick that will assess you in the future."