*Civil Society strongly condemns the criminal intimidation and threats made to noted scholar and anti-communalism activist Dr. Ram Puniyani and demand speedy and thorough investigation into the crime*
On 6th June 2019, Dr. Ram Puniyani received a phone call at 8.30 p.m., when the caller who refused to identify himself, started using abusive and filthy language towards him and said that he should stop his activities and leave or else…. He was told that he has time of 15 days to leave or suffer consequences of his failure. Five minutes later, he received another phone call from a different number where in an aggressive tone a male caller asked to give the phone to Doctor, and when Dr. Puniyani replied in the negative, the caller cut the phone off.
Even earlier, on 9th March 2019, three unidentified persons came to Dr. Puniyani’s residence on the pretext of making enquiries for his passport application. However, Dr. Puniyani had not even applied for any passport application. The visitors made general enquiries about his family and his past affiliation with IIT Mumbai and left. Dr. Puniyani filed a criminal complaint with Powai Police Station on this. However, the police failed to take any real action to investigate into the complaint or identify the visitors, although the CCTV footage and other details had been provided to the police.
On 7th June 2019, Dr. Puniyani has filed a criminal complaint in the matter of the threatening phone calls received by him with the Powai police station. Dr. Puniyani has provided details of the phone numbers as recorded in the caller ID of his residence phone. Dr. Puniyani has also met the Joint Commissioner, Law and Order, Mr. Vinoy K Choubey, on 7th June 2019, along with a delegation consisting of other civil society activists to report this serious incident of intimidation and demand speedy investigation into the crime and ensure safety of Dr. Puniyani.
The Joint Commissioner has assured the delegation that the incident will be investigated seriously and measures taken to ensure Dr. Puniyani’s safety and has instructed the Deputy Commissioner of Police, MIDC, Dr. Sangramsingh Nishandar to look into the complaint.
These repeated threats pose great risk and danger to Dr. Puniyani, who has been a strong secular voice and crusader for communal harmony. This is nothing but an attempt to silence his voice and curb his emphatic efforts towards spreading the message of peace and harmony. Already we have witnessed grave attacks on and assassinations of rationalists and secular thinkers, including Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, Prof. Govind Pansare, Prof. Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh, amongst others. Several writers, journalists, RTI activists, artists, lawyers etc. have been under attack by right wing forces. In light of these recent attacks, it is important that the police authorities and state administration takes serious note of and prompt action in this case, and take all measures to ensure safety of Dr. Puniyani and his family.
We, as members of civil society, are extremely disturbed and strongly condemn these serious threats to Dr. Ram Puniyani on 6th June 2019 and demand a speedy and thorough investigation into the crime and safety of Dr. Puniyani.
All India Secular Forum
Bharat Bachao Andolan
Centre for Justice and PeaceCentre for Study of Society and Secularism
Indian Christian Women’s Movement – Mumbai
Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy
Forum Against Oppression of Women
Free Speech Collective
People’s Union for Civil Liberties
Members of Delegation to meet Joint Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, Mumbai : Feroze Mithiborewala, Irfan Engineer, Sujata Gothoskar, Sandhya Gokhale, Geeta Seshu, Lara Jesani, Dr. Smita Puniyani and Dr. Ram Puniyani