Top military veterans demand minister Jayant Sinha's resignation for garlanding lynching accused

By Our Representative

Following 50 former IAS, IPS and IFS civil servants, nearly as many military veterans belonging to all three wings of the armed forces, have demanded immediate removal or resignation of Union minister Jayant Sinha for garlanding a group of men accused of lynching a meat trader, Alimuddin in Ramgarh. Calling it a “cynical political move”, the veterans have urged their colleagues in judiciary and civil services to firmly uphold the law and not be intimidated by “powerful and influential groups and seeking to spread the poison of disharmony and enmity.”

Text of the statement:

Backdrop to Veterans’ Statement: Since Independence in 1947, and becoming a Republic in 1950, when the Constitution of India came into force, the members of the Armed Forces in India have been ‘a-political’, in so far as they have acknowledged civil, namely political, authority over the military. 
However, every officer and jawan enjoys the right to vote as free and equal citizens in our democratic Republic. And the exercise of casting one’s vote implies that she or he is also exercising a political choice.
Considering that all of us, civil or military, are sworn to safeguard and uphold our Constitution, it is our duty and our responsibility as citizens of the country to point out those actions and events which clearly are transgressions – willful or otherwise – that undermine that Constitution and its provisions, namely of assuring:
“Justice – social, economic, and political; 
Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; 
Equality of status and opportunity; 
and to promote Fraternity – assuring the Dignity of the Individual and the Unity and Integrity of the Nation” (from Preamble to the Constitution).
We have come together on this occasion to share our concern at the ways in which it appears that our Constitution is being weakened. It is in this spirit that we the undersigned have issued this statement on the recent events surrounding actions taken by a Union Minister. We also support our colleagues in the Civil Services in taking the lead on this issue.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, quoted by a senior veteran: “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends". We must not remain silent when injustice is perpetrated with impunity.
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Statement: This group of Veterans of the Armed Forces hereby puts on record its revulsion at the recent incident in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand, where Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha publicly felicitated a group of convicts that a court has found guilty of lynching a Muslim meat trader in June 2017 in Ramgarh, Jharkhand, for carrying beef in his car.
While the convicts are on bail, pending a High Court decision on their appeal, and are entitled to the due process of law, we deplore that fact that a Union minister has felicitated these convicts as though they were “revolutionaries in a freedom struggle”.
Until a higher court finds them innocent, the individuals who Sinha feted are guilty of murdering a minority citizen for a motive directly linked with religion. This was clearly a cynical political move by Sinha, of a pattern with numerous recent incidents involving members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Whether it is a Union Minister draping the body of a riot accused in the national tricolour, the instigation by ruling party ministers in Jammu & Kashmir in the Kathua rape case, or the efforts to subvert due process of law in the brutal Rajsamand murder case, all such cases point to a violent, majoritarian mindset that seeks to telegraph the message that there is an unwritten license to kill minorities, and that those involved in such crimes will be supported -- financially, legally and politically.
In the past, the Union government has derisively dismissed protests against such communal killings by invoking the constitutional separation of powers – arguing that the locus standi lay with the concerned states, even though many of these states were also BJP-ruled.
Now that a BJP Union minister has openly questioned a criminal case that his own party government in Jharkhand had – admirably, in our opinion – prosecuted successfully, we would like to know the Government of India’s stand at this challenge to the rule of law by a minister entrusted with its protection.
We demand the immediate resignation/removal of Jayant Sinha from the Union Council of Ministers and an apology to the people of India from the party he represents for publicly sympathizing with perpetrators of communal killings, thereby sending out a message of support for such crimes.
We also urge our colleagues in the civil services and judiciary to firmly uphold the rule of law and not be intimidated by the actions of powerful and influential groups that seek to spread the poison of disharmony and enmity in our multicultural society.
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