13 Oppn parties flag growing communal tension, say ‘shocked at PM’s silence’

New Delhi, April 16 (IANS) A week after violence was reported from several parts of the country on Ram Navami, leaders of 13 opposition parties, including Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, M.K. Stalin and Hemant Soren, issued a joint appeal on Saturday urging the people to maintain peace and harmony.
The leaders also questioned the ‘silence’ of the Prime Minister in this matter, saying they are anguished the way the society is being ‘polarised’ and expressed concern over the volume of ‘hate’ speeches doing the rounds.
“We are extremely anguished at the manner in which issues related to food, dress, faith, festivals and language are being deliberately used by sections of the ruling establishment to polarise our society,” the appeal said.
The leaders said they are concerned with the growing incidents of hate speech in the country by people, who appear to have official patronage and against whom no meaningful and strong action is being taken.
“We strongly condemn the recent outburst of communal violence witnessed across several states in the country. We are deeply concerned, as reports indicate that there is a sinister pattern in the areas where these incidents have occurred. Incendiary, hate speeches preceded the aggressive armed religious processions unleashing communal violence,” the appeal read.
The opposition leaders said they are extremely pained at the manner in which social media and the audio-visual platforms are being ‘misused’ with official ‘patronage’ to spread hatred and prejudice.
“We are shocked at the silence of the Prime Minister, who has failed to speak against the words and actions of those who propagate bigotry and those who, by their words and actions, incite and provoke our society. This silence is an eloquent testimony to the fact that such private armed mobs enjoy the luxury of official patronage.
“We reiterate our collective resolve to work together to strengthen the bonds of social harmony that have defined and enriched India for centuries,” the appeal read.
The leaders said they are commited to combat and confront the poisonous ideologies, which are attempting to entrench divisiveness in the society.
“We reiterate our firm conviction that our country will prosper only if it respects, accommodates and celebrates its many diversities in full measure. We appeal to all sections of the people to maintain peace and foil the sinister objective of those who wish to sharpen communal polarisation. We call upon all our party units across the country to independently and jointly work for maintaining peace and harmony,” it said.
The appeal was signed by Sonia Gandhi (Congress), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Mamata Banerjee (TMC), M.K. Stalin (DMK), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Hemant Soren (JMM), Farooq Abdullah (NC), Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), D. Raja (CPI), Debabrata Biswas (Forward Bloc), Manoj Bhattacharya (RSP), P.K. Kunhalikutty (IUML), and Dipanker Bhattacharya (CPIML-Liberation).

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