Several academics, artistes, cultural and literary personalities today appealed to the people to reject the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) and its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, saying they were aiming to capture power by spreading communal hatred.
"We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by the reported remarks of the Prime Ministerial candidate of the NDA at an election rally in West Bengal that 'infiltrators' from Bangladesh belonging to a particular religious community must be sent back.
"Apart from the sheer inhumanity of the remark, we fear that in a country, in which every citizen does not possess documentary proof of citizenship, such a move would simply cause a general victimisation of persons belonging to that particular religious community," the intellectuals said in a joint statement here.
The reason cited by Modi for sending back 'infiltrators' was that "they take away jobs from local youth causing unemployment among the latter. This is exactly the reason offered by racist, fascist and xenophobic groups all over Europe", they said. Persons of Indian origin "have often been targets of such attacks which people in this country have rightly condemned", they said, while naming groups like Northern League in Italy, National Front in France, British National Party in UK, Movimento Social Espanol in Spain, National Renewal Party in Portugal and Flemish Block in Belgium for their attacks on immigrants.
"We must not replicate the same logic and the same attitude with regard to immigrants into this country which we condemn when they are directed against Indian immigrants abroad," the signatories to the statement said.
Blaming a hapless minority of immigrants for the flaws of an economic system that does not generate enough jobs for our youth is not just bad economics, but precisely what those who wield power within the current economic system would like everyone to believe, the statement said.
"We appeal to the people to reject this invitation to target a particular religious minority. We urge them to spurn those who are aiming to capture power by spreading communal hatred," it said.
The signatories include former West Bengal Finance Minister and noted economist Ashok Mitra, historians Romila Thapar, D N Jha and Irfan Habib, academics Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Harbans Mukhia, Mushirul Hasan and Prabhat Patnaik, film personalities Girish Karnad, Kumar Shahani and Saeed Mirza, artists Vivan Sundaram, Nilima Sheikh and Arpana Caur, theatre personalities M K Raina and Anuradha Kapur and mediaperson Antara Dev Sen.