Formal Navy Chief Admiral writes to CEC, seeks action against hate speeches at religious congregations

Former Navy Chief Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas (retd) wrote an open letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra seeking action on calls for inciting violence at ‘Dharam Sansads’, adding that it is a violation of both the Constitution and the Election Commission’s model code of conduct.

The letter written on January 12 titled ‘Dharam Sansads, incitement to violence and national security’ noted that no arrests have been made despite calling attention to this by lawyers, veterans, and suo motu cognisance by the Supreme Court.

The letter comes days after the former Navy Chief along with other former chiefs of the armed forces and a number of other prominent citizens, including bureaucrats, had written a similar letter to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 31 on the incidents of hate speeches at a ‘Dharam Sanasad’.

In a letter, the group of over 100 people referred to the communal comments made at an event in Haridwar recently. “We cannot allow such incitement to violence together with public expressions of hate – which not only constitute serious breaches of internal security but which could also tear apart the social fabric of our nation,” they said in the letter.

“Kindly find enclosed herewith a copy of the open statement on Dec 31st to the Hon President of India and the Hon Prime Minister, signed by six former Chiefs of Staff, over forty senior veterans, and over 150 eminent citizens, including senior bureaucrats, former ambassadors, academics and well known public figures,” Ramdas wrote in his January 12 letter.

“We have expressed our deep concern regarding the rise in hate speech targeting the main minority community — namely Muslims, and others too, across the country. The specific reference is to the recently-concluded Dharma Sansad in Hardwar on Dec 17-19; and a similar event in Delhi, where the speakers, openly gave speeches (that) tantamount to calling for genocide of Indian Muslims,” he said.

Although he mentioned no arrests have been made in the incident till date, a day after the letter was sent, the Uttarakhand Police Thursday made the first arrest in the Haridwar case three weeks after registering an FIR.

“Elections have been called by you Sir. Despite this, there continue to be further similar incidents and press conferences announcing similar Sansads in other locations. This is violative of both the Constitution and also the Code of Conduct,” he wrote.

“We urge you to kindly take serious note and suitable action to ensure that the sanctity of the electoral process is maintained and that all such calls inciting violence against one or other community, are dealt with firmly. As a former service man, I am deeply concerned about the direct impact of such actions on National Security – both External and Internal. The consequences for the social fabric of India and the overall well-being of our citizens are serious indeed. The country looks to you, especially in the important position you hold, of safeguarding our democratic norms and the Constitution of India,” he added.

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