20 May 2022 09:18 AM

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THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 27 APRIL, 2022

Former Civil Servants Alert Modi: ‘Our Constitutional Edifice is being Destroyed’

‘Local level tyranny’


Over a 100 former civil servants, the Constitutional Conduct Group, have written an open letter warning Prime Minister Narendra Modi that “hate and malevolence directed against Muslims seems to have embedded itself deep in the recesses” of the Republic of India and is leading to “local level tyranny” in many parts of the country.

Citing the recent rounds of demolitions they say, “State power is thus used not only to facilitate vigilante violence targeted against a community but to make ostensibly legal means available to the administration… to strike fear in the community, deprive them of their livelihoods and make it evident to them that they have to accept their status as inferior citizens”.

Adding, “The likelihood of our becoming a country that systematically makes sections of its own citizens - minorities, Dalits, the poor and the marginalized - targets of hate and knowingly deprives them of their fundamental rights is now, more than ever, frighteningly real.”

Full text and signatories below:

Open Letter to the Prime Minister – Call for End to Politics of Hate

26 April 2022

Dear Prime Minister,

We are witnessing a frenzy of hate filled destruction in the country where at the sacrificial altar are not just Muslims and members of the other minority communities but the Constitution itself. As former civil servants, it is not normally our wont to express ourselves in such extreme terms, but the relentless pace at which the constitutional edifice created by our founding fathers is being destroyed compels us to speak out and express our anger and anguish.

The escalation of hate violence against the minority communities, particularly Muslims, in the last few years and months across several States – Assam, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, all states in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is in power, barring Delhi (where the union government controls the police) – has acquired a frightening new dimension. It is no longer just the politics of an assertive Hindutva identity, nor the attempt to keep the communal cauldron on the boil – all that has been going for decades and in the last few years had become a part of the new normal. What is alarming now is the subordination of the fundamental principles of our Constitution and of the rule of law to the forces of majoritarianism, in which the state appears to be fully complicit.

The hate and malevolence directed against Muslims seems to have embedded itself deep in the recesses of the structures, institutions and processes of governance in the States in which the BJP is in power. The administration of law, instead of being an instrument for maintaining peace and harmony, has become the means by which the minorities can be kept in a state of perpetual fear. Their constitutional right to practice their own faith, follow their own customs, dress code and personal laws and exercise their own food choices, is threatened not merely by letting vigilante mobs inflict violence on them with impunity but, by twisting the law itself, to circumscribe their freedom of choice and make it convenient for a prejudiced, communal executive to make colourable use of state power.

State power is thus used not only to facilitate vigilante violence targeted against a community but to make ostensibly legal means available to the administration (e.g., anti-conversion laws, laws proscribing consumption of beef, encroachment removal, prescription of uniform codes in educational institutions) to strike fear in the community, deprive them of their livelihoods and make it evident to them that they have to accept their status as inferior citizens who have to subordinate themselves to majoritarian political power and majoritarian social and cultural norms. The likelihood of our becoming a country that systematically makes sections of its own citizens – minorities, Dalits, the poor and the marginalized – targets of hate and knowingly deprives them of their fundamental rights is now, more than ever, frighteningly real.

While we are not aware if the current spurt in communal frenzy is coordinated and directed by the political leadership, it is evident that the administration at the state and local levels provides a facilitating environment for mischievous lumpen groups to operate without fear. Such facilitation and support is not limited to that offered by the local police and other administrative officials; it appears to have the tacit approval of the highest political levels in the state and central governments, which provide the enabling policy and institutional environment for local level tyranny. While the actual commission of violence may be outsourced to fringe groups, there is little doubt as to how the ground for their operations is made fertile, how each of them follows a master script and shares a common ‘tool kit’ and how the propaganda machinery of a party as well as the state is made available to them to defend their actions.

What distinguishes the incidents that are taking place now from earlier communal conflagrations is not merely that a master design is being unveiled to prepare the grounds for a Hindu Rashtra [State], but that the constitutional and legal framework designed to prevent such a development from taking place is itself being twisted and perverted to make it an instrument of majoritarian tyranny. No wonder then that the bulldozer has now become the new metaphor for the exercise of political and administrative power, literally and figuratively. The edifice built around the ideas of ‘due process’ and ‘rule of law’ stands demolished. As the Jahangirpuri incident shows, even the orders of the highest court of the land appear to be treated with scant respect by the executive.

Prime Minister, we, the members of the Constitutional Conduct Group – all of us are former civil servants who have spent decades in the service of the Constitution – believe that the threat we are facing is unprecedented and at stake is not just constitutional morality and conduct; it is that the unique syncretic social fabric, which is our greatest civilizational inheritance and which our Constitution is so meticulously designed to conserve, is likely to be torn apart. Your silence, in the face of this enormous societal threat, is deafening.

We appeal to your conscience, taking heart from your promise of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas. It is our fond hope that in this year of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, rising above partisan considerations, you will call for an end to the politics of hate that governments under your party’s control are so assiduously practising. The idea of India that our founding fathers had envisioned and fought for needs a climate of fraternity and communal harmony to thrive. Hate will engender hate, rendering the environment too noxious for the idea to survive.

SATYAMEVA JAYATE

Yours sincerely,

Constitutional Conduct Group
 

  1.  

Anita Agnihotri

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Social Justice Empowerment, GoI

  1.  

Salahuddin Ahmad

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan

  1.  

S.P. Ambrose 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI

  1.  

Anand Arni

RAS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

  1.  

Aruna Bagchee

IAS (Retd.)

Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Mines, GoI

  1.  

Sandeep Bagchee

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

  1.  

G. Balachandhran

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

  1.  

Vappala Balachandran 

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

  1.  

Gopalan Balagopal 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

  1.  

Chandrashekar Balakrishnan 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Coal, GoI

  1.  

Rana Banerji

RAS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

  1.  

T.K. Banerji

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Union Public Service Commission

  1.  

Sharad Behar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

  1.  

Madhu Bhaduri

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Portugal

  1.  

Meeran C Borwankar 

IPS (Retd.)

Former DGP, Bureau of Police Research and Development, GoI

  1.  

Ravi Budhiraja

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, GoI

  1.  

Sundar Burra 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

  1.  

Maneshwar Singh Chahal

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Secretary, Home, Govt. of Punjab

  1.  

R. Chandramohan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Secretary, Transport and Urban Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi

  1.  

Kalyani Chaudhuri 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

  1.  

Gurjit Singh Cheema

IAS (Retd.)

Former Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Govt. of Punjab

  1.  

F.T.R. Colaso

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Karnataka & former Director General of Police, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir

  1.  

Anna Dani 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

  1.  

Surjit K. Das 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttarakhand

  1.  

Vibha Puri Das 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, GoI

  1.  

P.R. Dasgupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Food Corporation of India, GoI

  1.  

Pradeep K. Deb

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Deptt. Of Sports, GoI

  1.  

M.G. Devasahayam

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana

  1.  

Sushil Dubey 

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Sweden

  1.  

A.S. Dulat

IPS (Retd.)

Former OSD on Kashmir, Prime Minister’s Office, GoI

  1.  

K.P. Fabian 

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Italy

  1.  

Prabhu Ghate

IAS (Retd.)

Former Addl. Director General, Department of Tourism, GoI

  1.  

Suresh K. Goel

IFS (Retd.)

Former Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations, GoI

  1.  

S.K. Guha

IAS (Retd.)

Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI

  1.  

H.S. Gujral

IFoS (Retd.)

Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of Punjab

  1.  

Meena Gupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI

  1.  

Ravi Vira Gupta 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India

  1.  

Deepa Hari 

IRS (Resigned)

 
  1.  

Sajjad Hassan 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur

  1.  

Siraj Hussain

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture, GoI

  1.  

Kamal Jaswal 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI

  1.  

Najeeb Jung

IAS (Retd.)

Former Lieutenant Governor, Delhi

  1.  

Brijesh Kumar 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI

  1.  

Ish Kumar

IPS (Retd.)

Former DGP (Vigilance & Enforcement), Govt. of Telangana and former Special Rapporteur, National Human Rights Commission

  1.  

Sudhir Kumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Central Administrative Tribunal

  1.  

Subodh Lal

IPoS (Resigned)

Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI

  1.  

B.B. Mahajan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Deptt. of Food, GoI

  1.  

Harsh Mander 

IAS (Retd.)

Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

  1.  

Amitabh Mathur

IPS (Retd.)

Former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, GoI

  1.  

Lalit Mathur

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development, GoI

  1.  

L.L. Mehrotra

IFS (Retd.)

Former Special Envoy to the Prime Minister and former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, GoI

  1.  

Aditi Mehta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan

  1.  

Shivshankar Menon

IFS (Retd.)

Former Foreign Secretary and Former National Security Adviser

  1.  

Sonalini Mirchandani 

IFS (Resigned)

GoI

  1.  

Sunil Mitra 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI

  1.  

Noor Mohammad

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India

  1.  

Avinash Mohananey

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Sikkim

  1.  

Satya Narayan Mohanty

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission

  1.  

Deb Mukharji 

IFS (Retd.)

Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal

  1.  

Shiv Shankar Mukherjee

IFS (Retd.)

Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

  1.  

Gautam Mukhopadhaya

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Myanmar

  1.  

Pranab S. Mukhopadhya

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director, Institute of Port Management, GoI

  1.  

T.K.A. Nair

IAS (Retd.)

Former Adviser to Prime Minister of India

  1.  

P.A. Nazareth 

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Egypt and Mexico

  1.  

P. Joy Oommen

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh

  1.  

Amitabha Pande 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI

  1.  

Maxwell Pereira

IPS (Retd.)

Former Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi

  1.  

G.K. Pillai

IAS (Retd.)

Former Home Secretary, GoI

  1.  

R. Poornalingam

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Textiles, GoI

  1.  

Rajesh Prasad

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to the Netherlands

  1.  

Sharda Prasad

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director General (Employment and Training), Ministry of Labour and Employment, GoI

  1.  

R.M. Premkumar

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

  1.  

Rajdeep Puri

IRS (Resigned)

Former Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, GoI

  1.  

T.R. Raghunandan 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, GoI

  1.  

N.K. Raghupathy 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Staff Selection Commission, GoI

  1.  

V.P. Raja

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission

  1.  

Satwant Reddy 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI

  1.  

Vijaya Latha Reddy

IFS (Retd.)

Former Deputy National Security Adviser, GoI

  1.  

Julio Ribeiro 

IPS (Retd.)

Former Adviser to Governor of Punjab & former Ambassador to Romania

  1.  

Aruna Roy 

IAS (Resigned)

 
  1.  

A.K. Samanta

IPS (Retd.)

Former Director General of Police (Intelligence), Govt. of West Bengal

  1.  

Deepak Sanan

IAS (Retd.)

Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh

  1.  

Shyam Saran

IFS (Retd.)

Former Foreign Secretary and Former Chairman, National Security Advisory Board

  1.  

S. Satyabhama

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI

  1.  

N.C. Saxena 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI

  1.  

A. Selvaraj 

IRS (Retd.)

Former Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, Chennai, GoI

  1.  

Ardhendu Sen 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal

  1.  

Abhijit Sengupta

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Culture, GoI

  1.  

Aftab Seth 

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Japan

  1.  

Ashok Kumar Sharma

IFoS (Retd.)

Former MD, State Forest Development Corporation, Govt. of Gujarat

  1.  

Ashok Kumar Sharma

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia

  1.  

Navrekha Sharma 

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Indonesia

  1.  

Pravesh Sharma

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

  1.  

Raju Sharma 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh

  1.  

Rashmi Shukla Sharma

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

  1.  

Mukteshwar Singh

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission

  1.  

Sujatha Singh

IFS (Retd.)

Former Foreign Secretary, GoI

  1.  

Tara Ajai Singh

IAS (Retd.)

Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Karnataka

  1.  

Tirlochan Singh

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, National Commission for Minorities, GoI

  1.  

Narendra Sisodia

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary, Ministry of Finance, GoI

  1.  

Parveen Talha

IRS (Retd.)

Former Member, Union Public Service Commission

  1.  

Anup Thakur

IAS (Retd.)

Former Member, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission

  1.  

P.S.S. Thomas

IAS (Retd.)

Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission

  1.  

Hindal Tyabji

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir

  1.  

Jawed Usmani

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh & former Chief Information Commissioner, Uttar Pradesh

  1.  

Ashok Vajpeyi

IAS (Retd.)

Former Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi

  1.  

Ramani Venkatesan 

IAS (Retd.)

Former Director General, YASHADA, Govt. of Maharashtra

  1.  

Rudi Warjri

IFS (Retd.)

Former Ambassador to Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica

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