Thursday, February 12, 2009

Letter to the President

Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Patil, President of India, delivered a lengthy Address to Parliament dated Feb 12 (today), which you can read here. It covers much of what's been happening in India in recent months. However, despite scanning it a few times I could not find any mention of the recent spate of disgraceful attacks on women in India by fringe right-wing groups who would like to deny women their personal freedom. A recent horrific incident is reported in The Hindu today.

Since Her Excellency is quoted on her website as follows: "Empowerment of women is particularly important to me as I believe this leads to the empowerment of the nation", I feel it would be appropriate and desirable for her to issue a strong statement on what's been happening. As her website invites people to email her at:, I sent her the following mail today.


Your Excellency Smt. Patil,

I wish to express to you my anguish at the attacks being carried out on women by right-wing hooligans in our country. In a recent case (reported in The Hindu, see below) a 15-year old Hindu schoolgirl was allegedly harrassed because of her friendship with a Muslim boy and subsequently committed suicide.

It is very disturbing that as per the report, the police were apparently sympathetic to the hooligans.

As a scientist who has worked in service of his country for over 25 years, I am greatly saddened at such developments. I request you to personally issue a statement that our country will not remain silent in the face of attacks on the freedom of women and to press the concerned agencies to ensure that attackers will be severely punished.

Such a statement coming from Your Excellency would convey a very important message to the nation at this time.


Prof. Sunil Mukhi

Professor of Physics
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

From: THE HINDU, FEB 12 2009.

Schoolgirl commits suicide

Sudipto Mondal

MANGALORE: A 15-year-old schoolgirl hanged herself to death at Mulky in Dakshina Kannada on Wednesday morning after she was publicly humiliated by a suspected Hindutva fringe group, according to eyewitness accounts. Superintendent of Police N. Sathish Kumar, however, denied the involvement of any group in her death.

According to Rafique, a helper in a bus, the victim and another girl boarded the bus at Kinnigoli village at 12 noon on Tuesday. The girls, both students of the Aikala PU College, got off at Moodbidri along with Abdul Salim, with whom one of the girls was friendly. As they were walking towards Venoor, a group of suspected Hindutva youths allegedly accosted them. The girls were berated for being friendly with someone from another religion and all the three were beaten up. The bus, on its return journey, was stopped by another group that dragged Rafique out and thrashed him. He was taken to the place where Salim and the girls were held.

The captors then called Moodbidri SI Bharathi G., who took the four to the police station. The parents of one of the girls were summoned and Salim was allegedly forced to write a letter of apology. The girl and her family were said to have been humiliated at the station by a mob.

The next morning, the girl committed suicide. After her death, Salim was arrested following a complaint by her father of rape and abetting in the suicide of a minor.


Anant said...

Sunil: I am very pleased to know that you have written the letter to Her Excellency. Keep up the great work. If you want to start a signature campaign, I would like to be one of the early signatories. Anant

Anirbit said...

Isn't such an action a bit too much to hope from the President given that the Presidential elections are unfortunately politically influenced?

And Indian politics is still divided along regional and regional sectarianism whose roots go back to the times of Nawabs etc who failed to defend India's integrity against foreign onslaught.

Isn't democracy just a farce in a country where national politics is built upon petty regional issues?

These recent attacks on the freedom of choice by the "Ramsena" are merely manifestations of the frankenstein Indian politicians have created to foster local/regional/religious powers through shrewdly divisive policies.