In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”
According to the 71 civil servants, who have signed the statement, including those belonging to the Indian Administrative, Police and Foreign Services, “Our heritage is not that of acts of terrorism. It is not of majoritarianism but of celebrating our diversity. It is of tolerance, fraternity and of the unifying spirit of the Constitution of India.”
Asserting that Thakur is still a “terror accused”, they add, her candidature suggests that the “efforts” Election Commission and the Judiciary “to contain the politics of divisiveness and of hate have had little impact so far.”
Text of the statement:
Our group of former civil servants of the All-India and Central Services has no affiliation with any political party and is firmly committed to the Constitution of India. We write to express our disbelief and dismay at the candidature of Pragya Thakur for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat. This decision could have been dismissed as yet another example of political expediency, but for the enthusiastic endorsement by no less a person than the Prime Minister of India, who has termed her candidature as a symbol of our civilisational heritage.
As if it were not enough to nominate a person who is undergoing trial for acts of terror (the Malegaon Bomb Blast Case), Pragya Thakur, who is out on bail on medical grounds, has used the political platform she has been provided not just to propound her brand of bigotry, but also to insult the memory of Hemant Karkare, the IPS officer who laid down his life in the fight against terror.
For Thakur, Karkare died not because he sacrificed his own life defending ours, but because she had put a curse on him for daring to investigate her and, through his meticulous investigations, successfully charging her for terrorist crimes. In her worldview, anyone who has the audacity to investigate a self-styled “Hindu” religious leader in a “Hindu” country earns divine wrath and therefore would naturally be destroyed.
As former civil servants, we are not normally wont to give voice to our feelings. However, this dishonouring of a former colleague, an officer known for his professionalism, has come as the ultimate shock and saddened us beyond words. The country needs to honour the sacrifice of Karkare and not allow deviant individuals to denigrate him and his memory. Every officer who has served with or supervised the work of Karkare has testified that he was a person of impeccable integrity and an inspiration to all who came in touch with him.
But this statement is not just about Karkare. It is also about the atmosphere of hate and divisiveness that characterises not just this electoral campaign but seems to be percolating through society as a whole. The candidature of Pragya Thakur is not a symbol of our civilisational heritage. Our heritage is not that of acts of terrorism. It is not of majoritarianism but of celebrating our diversity. It is of tolerance, fraternity and of the unifying spirit of the Constitution of India.
To this end, we appeal to the Prime Minister of India to unequivocally condemn, through actions and statements, the existence of terror in any form. He cannot escape the irony of his party seeking votes in the name of fighting terrorism and at the same time endorsing the candidature of a person accused of terror crimes. Martyrdom cannot be selectively appropriated or given up for the pursuit of political ambition.
To institutions like the Election Commission and the Judiciary, we would like to point out that their efforts to contain the politics of divisiveness and of hate have had little impact so far. It is necessary to be far more proactive to stamp out this aberration. Inaction will only exacerbate the situation.
We, who came together to use our pooled experience in the service of the Constitution and to further the values enshrined therein, call upon our fellow citizens to join us in:
- Condemning unequivocally, the statement of Pragya Thakur;
- Demanding that the BJP withdraw her candidature;
- Reminding the Prime Minister of his oath to uphold Constitutional values and appealing to him to take the lead in putting an end to the climate of fear and intimidation and communal viciousness that seems to be permeating the entire electoral process.
We appeal to our fellow citizens to come together and use our collective might to ensure that the India that was dreamt of by Mahatma Gandhi – an India engaged in a ceaseless quest for truth and nonviolence – and the India that the founding fathers of our Constitution conceived of, remains intact and rises to its full potential.
We also appeal to our fellow citizens to reject the pervading atmosphere of hate and divisiveness. Every citizen of India, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, belongs to this country. Let us celebrate our unity in diversity and recall that, together, we have given unto ourselves this Constitution.
Click HERE for the list of signatories