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Civil Society Being Viewed Through an Adversarial Prism These Days: Former Civil Servants

Undersigned by 102 signatories who previously held various bureaucratic offices in both the central and state government apparatuses, the open letter takes a strong exception to recent utterances by high dignitaries of the state.
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After a series of unprecedented statements by representatives of the Indian state denigrating civil society, a group of former civil servants of the All India and Central Services have addressed an open letter to the citizens of India.

The statement has been issued on November 28 by the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), a “non-partisan” group, “motivated only by the desire to promote the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution.”

Undersigned by 102 signatories who previously held various bureaucratic offices in both the central and state government apparatuses, the letter takes a strong exception to recent utterances by retired Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra, who heads the National Human Rights Commission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Bipin Rawat, and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

The letter points how “Arun Mishra asserted that India’s creditable record on human rights was being tarnished at the behest of international forces.

The Prime Minister, on his part, discerned a political agenda in what he felt was selective perception of human rights violation in certain incidents, while overlooking certain others.”

The CCG letter also found the recent statement by COAS in J&K highly problematic, when he found it an encouraging phenomenon that Kashmiris were seen to be mob lynching militants.

“Locals are giving information about terrorists,” the Army chief had said at a Times Now Summit, adding that “Now they are saying they will lynch the terrorists, which is a very positive sign that is coming in. If there is a terrorist operating in your area, why should you not lynch him?”

Reacting to this, the former civil servants termed this statement by Bipin Rawat as giving a “fillip to the growing menace of vigilantism by endorsing the killing of persons believed to be terrorists by lynch mobs in Kashmir.”

In sum, the CCG letter expressed worry that civil society was being viewed through an adversarial prism these days.

In the end, the 100+ signatories expressed hope that “The government will realize the pitfalls of demonising dissent and trying to suppress civil resistance by brute force. It is also hoped that the alumni of the National Police Academy, or indeed our security forces in general, will not be swayed by the NSA’s rhetoric and remember that their primary duty is to uphold Constitutional values, which override the will of the political executive.”

The full letter is published below:

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