An Open Letter To My Prime Minister After The Kathua Rape Incident

Dear PM,

I am writing from Varanasi. It’s supposed to be your constituency, remember? I write this sitting at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the very BHU you refused to visit when I sat at its gates, tweeting and retweeting you to come hear my pleas.

I have a thousand complaints against you, on different grounds. As an economics student, I am appalled by your policies; as a citizen, I am distraught when you refuse to answer my questions; as a Banarasi, I feel helpless when I see you thoughtlessly destroy the beautiful heritage of my city. But today, I write to you in my capacity as an Indian.

Sir, I have always been proud of my Indian heritage. I feel so glad to be coming from a country that has always been the voice of reason in a world gone mad. The country which led the world on the path to peace, through non-violence and non-alignment. I want to remind you that you come from the country of Mahatma Gandhi. The same Gandhi who dropped his non-cooperation movement because some of his followers resorted to violence in a single isolated incident.

And here, we have you. I do not know you, sir. There have been moments when I felt a momentary surge of hope when you said things like your government would be a government for everybody. And then there is the everyday reality.

The everyday reality where you have a mob set loose on this nation. These people are killing every voice of reason and silencing every logical argument. They are killing people and raping women, all in your name, and in the name of my God.

I have a lot of friends who claim to be atheists and who are simply disassociating themselves, saying they aren’t Hindus. I am not that lucky. I am a devout Hindu and never in my life have I had to bow my head in shame because of that. I follow a religion which I believe is nothing more than a way of life and preaches nothing but harmony with nature. What is happening in the name of my religion today is something I could never think of. Today, I understand how my Muslim friends feel every time a terrorist attack by a self-proclaimed Islamist group takes place.

But I wonder how you feel today, sir. How do you feel about being the leader of a party whose members have stooped so low as to actually come out and defend rapists while waving national flags on the road? I was glad to hear that two of your ministers who had backed the accused have resigned. I would be gladder still to hear that they have been made to leave the BJP. I would be glad to hear that you have unfollowed the people who made fun of Gauri Lankesh’s murder. Only then can I sleep peacefully.

This is a cry of distress, sir. Kindly take some control of your followers or they shall rip apart everything decent left in this country. They are bringing nothing but shame to us every day. They are defying every definition of what it means to be human. Bring out better and more mature spokespersons for your party, people who are capable of having sane discussions. Take control of the IT cells spreading lies and the trolls spreading hatred. Come out in the open and rebuke these people with the harshest words you can muster. Disassociate yourself from them and take such strict actions that no one in the BJP would ever dare to stoop so low under your leadership.

You are my Prime Minister and I still have faith in you, sir. I believe that even if I may not like it, you are our last hope of instilling sanity back in this country. Half of the country would be ready to stand upside down if you were to ask them, so asking them to not spread such hatred is not that difficult a task.

Believe this to be the voice of the common man of the country and have faith in us. You do not need the support of such people to win the elections. In spite of how many complaints I may have about you, I still believe you to be an honest man, and I know you can do so much better. You do not need us divided on communal lines to ensure your victory – there are so many better ways of doing that and I believe you are capable of seeking those ways.

So, come out in the open today and stand with us, even if it means standing against a lot many people in your own party. We promise you we shall not fail you, but only if you do not fail us.

Looking towards you with hopeful eyes,
A common citizen under your Prime-Ministership

If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at dial1098@childlineindia.org.in. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.