Attempt to impose uniform belief or practice on individuals or communities antithetical to freedom enshrined in Constitution

lynchFollowing protest statements by prominent activists and scholars, India’s 73 sociologists, some of whom are well-known names, have got together to issue a statement on the “need to maintain constitutional and academic freedoms” in India in the wake of the gruesome lynching incident in Dadri, which followed the murder of scholars and thinkers. Among those who have signed the statement include sociologists from Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawarlal Nehru University, Azim Premji University, Institute of Economic Growth, South Asian University, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, University of Hyderabad, University of Mumbai, Centre for Social Development,  VV Giri National Labour Institute, Indian Institute of Technology  (Delhi), Madras Institute of Development Studies, University of Cambridge,  Madras Institute of Development Studies, University of Cape Town,  Tata Institute of Social Sciences- Mumbai, Tata Institute of Social Sciences- Guwahati, University of California at Berkeley, University of Goa, and University of Pune. Text of the statement:      

We, as sociologists and concerned citizens, feel extremely concerned about the lynching at Dadri, and the murders of scholars and thinkers like MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and others, and wish to register our strong protest.

We are not just shocked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s late response, but also by the implications of the victim-blaming statement he made. To say that ‘Hindus and Muslims should not fight each other but should fight poverty instead’ puts the onus for peace and fighting poverty entirely on civil society and communities and absolves the state of any responsibility for both. As Prime Minister, he should have asserted that the state would defend the rule of law.

In a country with some 4693 communities and over 415 living languages, each community is bound to have its own customs, including dietary choices. Individuals may also follow practices different from the ones followed by the majority of their community. Any attempt to impose a uniform belief or practice, on either individuals or communities, is antithetical to the freedom enshrined in the Constitution. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure this freedom.

Further, as scholars, we are extremely worried about the implications of these recent developments for our ability to study and write about different life ways, and to critically analyse society, including social phenomena like religion.

Click HERE for list of signatories


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