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Eminent academics open letter to the Prime Minister of India on the Kathua and Unnao rape cases

Catch Team | Updated on: 23 April 2018, 18:17 IST
(File photo)

Hundreds of eminent academics have written an open letter to the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. The academics have directly said that Modi's statements on the recent Kathua and Unnao rape cases had been "wholly inadequate, platitudinous, and non-specific assurances of justice for the victims".

The signatories to the letter are academics from across the world. The academics hail from illustrious institutes like Harvard, Columbia University, New York University, IITs, IIMs and countries like the United Kingdom, Singapore, the Netherlands and others.

This is the second open letter directly addressed to PM Modi this week. Earlier 49 retired civil servants sent an open letter to PM Modi holding him responsible for the “terrifying state of affairs”.

Here's the full text of the open letter:

Open letter to the Prime Minister of India on the Kathua and Unnao Rape Cases


The Prime Minister of India,

Prime Minister’s Office, South Block,

Raisina Hill, New Delhi 110 001.

21 April 2018

Mr Prime Minister,

We are academics and independent scholars from India and abroad, writing to express solidarity with, and to endorse the sentiments expressed by, forty-nine retired civil servants in their open letter to you of April 16th 2018.

Along with these civil servants and countless other citizens of India and the world at large, we wish to express our deep anger and anguish over the events in Kathua and Unnao and the aftermath of these events; over the efforts, in both cases, of those administering the relevant States to protect the alleged perpetrators of these monstrous crimes; over the subsequent profoundly distasteful efforts of rationalisation, deflection and diversion that have been so much in evidence in the reactions of your party’s spokespersons in the media; and finally over your own prolonged (and by now familiar) silence that was broken only recently with wholly inadequate, platitudinous, and  non-specific assurances of justice for the victims.

Kathua and Unnao are not isolated incidents. They are part of a pattern of repeated targeted attacks on minority religious communities, Dalits, tribals and women, in which rape and lynching have been employed as instruments of violence by gau rakshaks and others, in a sequence of events spread across Dadri in Uttar Pradesh (2015), Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir (2015), Bijapur and Sukma in Chhattisgarh (2015-16), Harda in Madhya Pradesh (2016), Latehar in Jharkand (2016), Una in Gujarat (2016), Rohtak in Haryana (2017), Delhi (2017), Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh (2017), and now Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh (2018).

Many of these events have occurred in States with BJP Governments, and all of them after the BJP assumed power at the Centre. This is not to associate violence exclusively with your party and with State governments presided over by your party. But there is an undeniable association with the ruling dispensation.

There is little evidence, in government action, of an appreciation of the importance of providing assistance to vulnerable sections of the society – whether through promotional measures aimed at enabling tribals and nomads to have access to forest and common property rights, or through preventive measures aimed at discouraging blatant breaches of the rule of law. Even the Allahabad High Court on April 12th 2018 observed: “If this is the conduct of the police in the state, whom will a victim approach to register a complaint? If this is the stand you are repeatedly taking then we will be forced to observe in our order that law and order has collapsed in the state".

We send you this letter because it is our duty to do so; so that we are not guilty of silence; and so that callousness and cowardice might finally draw the line at the broken body of a little girl and the rape of a young woman.


List of signatories

  1. N Abhilaasha, Centre for Urban Equity, Ahmedabad
  2. Lila Abu-Lughod, Columbia University, New York, USA
  3. Arnab Acharya, Independent researcher, Washington D.C.
  4. Anindita Adhikari , Brown University, USA
  5. Tanvir Aeijaz, Ramjas College, Delhi
  6. Farzana Afridi, Delhi
  7. Aftab Ahmad, Columbia University, New York, USA
  8. Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, San Diego State University, CA, USA
  9. Aniket Alam, International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad
  10. Seema Alavi, University of Delhi, Delhi
  11. Meena Alexander, Hunter College/Graduate Center, CUNY, New York, USA
  12. Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster, UK
  13. S.Anandhi, Chennai.
  14. Krishna Ananth, SRM University - AP Amaravati
  15. Mary Anderson: Harvard University and Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, USA
  16. Aneesh, K.A., Jawaharlal Nehru Institute, New Delhi
  17. Gil Anidjar, Columbia University, New York, USA
  18. Anitha Kumary L, Trivandrum
  19. Sundari Anitha, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
  20. E. Annamalai, University of Chicago, USA
  21. J. Shaik Dawood Ansari, Open Campus Madang, University of Papua New Guinea
  22. Arjun Appadurai, New York University, New York, USA
  23. Anjali Arondekar, UCLA, USA
  24. Balveer Arora, Emeritus Professor and Chairman, Centre for Multilevel Federalism
  25. P K Yasser Arafath, University of Delhi, Delhi
  26. Shoba Arun, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
  27. G. Arunima, JNU, New Delhi
  28. Nina Asher, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, USA
  29. Kiran Asher, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
  30. Prashanth Asuri, Santa Clara University, USA
  31. Jayadev Athreya, University of Washington, USA
  32. Venkatesh Athreya, Social Activist and Retired Academic, Chennai
  33. Madhav Badami, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  34. Amiya Kumar Bagchi, (Emeritus), Institute for Development Studies, Kolkata
  35. Barnita Bagchi, Utrecht University, Netherlands
  36. Neha Bagle, IIM Ahmedabad
  37. Vidura Jang Bahadur, University of Chicago, Chicago, USA
  38. Amit R. Baishya, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Oklahoma
  39. Mira Bakhru, Retd faculty, IIM Bangalore, Bnagalore.
  40. Aparna Balachandran, University of Delhi, Delhi
  41. Radhika Balakrishnan, Rutgers University, U.S.A
  42. Sai Balakrishnan, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
  43. Sujata Balasubramanian, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Hong Kong
  44. Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen, New York University Abu Dhabi, UAE
  45. Sibaji Bandyopadhyay, Retd Professor, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
  46. Abhijit Banerjee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  47. Arindam Banerjee, Ambedkar University, Delhi
  48. Chinmoy Banerjee, Emeritus, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
  49. Sukanya Banerjee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA
  50. Sumanta Banerjee, Independent Researcher, Hyderabad
  51. Parama Barai, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.
  52. Syamal Kumar Basak (Retd), Presidency College/University, Kolkata
  53. Rakesh Basant, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
  54. Alaka Basu, Cornell University, U.S.A
  55. Amrita Basu, Amherst College, Mass, USA
  56. Deepankar Basu, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst MA, USA
  57. Kunal Basu, University of Oxford, UK
  58. Lopamudra Basu, University of Wisconsin-Stout
  59. Kanika Batra, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA
  60. Amita Baviskar, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi
  61. Rana P. Behal, University of Delhi, India.
  62. Jyothsna Belliappa, Bangalore
  63. Yael Berda, Hebrew University and Harvard University, USA
  64. Amit Bhaduri, (Emeritus), JNU, New Delhi.
  65. Monika Bhagat-Kennedy, University of Mississippi
  66. Manu Bhagavan, Hunter College and the Graduate Center-CUNY, New York, USA
  67. Alok Bhalla, Former Professor of English, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.
  68. Sheila Bhalla, (Emerita): Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Visiting: Institute of Human Development, New Delhi
  69. Brenna Bhandar , SOAS, University of London, London UK
  70. Gauri Bharat, CEPT University, Ahmedabad
  71. Ira Bhaskar, JNU, New Delhi
  72. Saurabh Bhattacharjee, The WB National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata
  73. Baidik Bhattacharya, University of Delhi. Delhi
  74. Neeladri Bhattacharya, Retd from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  75. Sucheta Bhattacharya, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  76. Debjani Bhattacharyya, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  77. Devaki Bhaya, Stanford, CA, USA
  78. Bhangya Bhukya, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad
  79. Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University, U.S.A.
  80. A K Biswas, Former Vice-Chancellor, B R Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar
  81. Bënil Biswas, Ambedkar University, Delhi
  82. Moinak Biswas, Professor, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  83. Cavery Bopaiah, Bangalore
  84. Mita Bose, retired, Indraprastha College, Delhi University and currently Adjunct faculty at ICFAI Business School, Gurugram, Haryana
  85. Tirthankar Bose, Simon Fraser University, Canada
  86. Saronik Bosu, New York University, New York, USA
  87. Guillaume Boucher, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Canada
  88. Milind Brahme, Chennai, India
  89. Vacha Brat, IIM, Ahmedabad
  90. Carmen Bugan, writer and independent scholar, Long Island, USA
  91. Eleanor Byrne, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
  92. Maya Chadda, William Paterson University, NJ, USA
  93. Kunal Chakrabarti, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
  94. Achin Chakraborty, Institute for Development Studies, Kolkata
  95. Chandrima Chakraborty, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
  96. Lekha Chakraborty, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
  97. Madhurima Chakraborty, Columbia College Chicago
  98. Pinaki Chakraborty, New Delhi
  99. Rudrashish Chakraborty, Kirori Mal College, Delhi
  100. Shouvik Chakraborty, PERI, University of Massachussetts Amherst, U.S.A
  101. Ranabir Chakravarti, JNU, New Delhi
  102. Paula Chakravartty, New York University, New York, USA
  103. Mrinalini Chakravorty, University of Virginia, USA
  104. Barnali Chanda, Techno India University, Kolkata
  105. Sudhir Chandra, Historian
  106. Vinita Chandra, Ramjas College, Delhi
  107. C. P. Chandrasekhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
  108. Tarun Chandrayadula, IIT Madras, Chennai
  109. S. Charusheela, University of Washington Bothell, USA
  110. Sayaka Chatani, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  111. Amita Chatterjee, Retired Professor of Philosophy, Jadavpur University
  112. Ananya Chatterjea, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA
  113. Indrani Chatterjee, University of Texas at Austin, USA
  114. Sreeparna Chattopadhyay, Bangalore
  115. Suchetana Chattopadhyay, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  116. Ruchi Chaturvedi, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  117. Amit Chaudhuri, Writer, Calcutta
  118. Aparna Chaudhuri, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
  119. Rosinka Chaudhuri, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
  120. Sudip Chaudhuri, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata.
  121. Sukanta Chaudhuri, (Emeritus), Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  122. Supriya Chaudhuri, (Emeritia). Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  123. Wendy Chavkin MD, MPH, Columbia University, New York, USA
  124. Ying Chen, New School for Social Research, New York, USA
  125. Anuradha Mitra Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  126. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  127. Dolores Chew, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
  128. Anita Chikkatur, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  129. Camille Cole, Yale University, U.S.A
  130. Andrew Cornford, Geneva Finance Observatory, Switzerland
  131. Amrita Chhachhi, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands
  132. Jagdeep Chhokar, Professor (Retired), Indian Institute of Management,Ahmedabad
  133. Sarah E. Chinn, Hunter College, CUNY, New York, USA
  134. Deborah Choate, MD, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, Boston, USA
  135. Noam Chomsky, ( Emeritus) Massachussetts Institute of Technology, and University of Arizona, U.S.A
  136. Deepta Chopra, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK
  137. Elora Halim Chowdhury, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA
  138. Indira Chowdhury Bengaluru, India
  139. Indranil Chowdhury, University of Delhi, Delhi


First published: 23 April 2018, 18:17 IST