Ayodhya letter

6 December 2019

We, a collective of retired civil servants deeply committed to the values and guarantees of the Indian constitution, share with our fellow Indians our extreme grief and deep concern about where India stands today, 27 years after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya on 6 December, 1992.

  1. We recall that 6 December is also the anniversary of the day on which the man who led the creation of one of the finest constitutions in the world, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, left this world. The battle for the land on which the medieval mosque in Ayodhya stood was at its core a battle for the defence of the highest values of this constitution.
  2. This was not simply a title dispute over a tiny piece of land in a dusty small town. It was not even a contest between a medieval mosque, now razed, with a grand temple, still imagined. It was a dispute about what kind of country this is and will be in the future, to who does it belong, and on what terms must people of different identities and beliefs live together in this vast and teeming land.
  3. We feel intense anguish because 27 years after the mosque was demolished, those who were responsible for this crime which tore India apart and led to the highest levels of communal bloodletting after the Partition riots, have still not been punished, even though the Supreme Court directed that this criminal case be heard on a day-to-day basis. Instead, many of those who led and participated in this assault not just on a mosque but on India’s constitutional morality, have held some of the highest offices in this country.
  4. We worry also that the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of India in effect rewards this grave crime. It also creates a false and illusory notion that a verdict favouring those who claim to speak for the majority community can result in peace and reconciliation and everyone should move on, injustice notwithstanding.
  5. In this deeply troubling moment in the journey of this country which we love, we contest resolutely the message that it seems to convey to India’s religious minorities that their claim to this country and its democratic institutions is subordinate to anyone. We would like to recall the famous dictum “Freedom is the outcome of the tranquillity of peace and peace emanates from justice.” Freedom and justice are the soul of our constitution.
  6. This is a time when every Indian should recall Mahatma Gandhi’s last fast, two weeks before he was assassinated. One of his three demands was that the mosques and dargahs in Delhi in which Hindu idols had been inserted should be returned respectfully to the Muslims. Hinduism, he said, would be emptied for him of meaning if a single place of worship of another faith was desecrated in the name of the Hindu faith.
  7. We who sign this letter to the Indian people include a Jain, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, atheists and agnostics. We are together convinced that true religion never teaches violence and hate of another. Therefore, on 6 December, we first express our collective agony and atonement that a place of worship was pulled down with such hate. We also pledge that we will not allow our great Constitution to be emptied of its soul.
1. S.P. Ambrose IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Shipping & Transport, GoI
2. G. Balachandhran IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
3. Gopalan Balagopal IAS (Retd.) Former Special Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
4. Chandrashekhar Balakrishnan IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Coal, GoI
5. Sharad Behar IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
6. Madhu Bhaduri IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Portugal
7. Sundar Burra IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra

 

8. Anna Dani IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra
9. M.G. Devasahayam IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Govt. of Haryana
10. Sushil Dubey IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Sweden
11. Arif Ghauri IRS (Retd.) Former Governance Adviser, DFID, Govt. of the United Kingdom (on deputation)
12. S.K. Guha IAS (Retd.) Former Joint Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development, GoI
13. Meena Gupta IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI
14. Sajjad Hassan IAS (Retd.) Former Commissioner (Planning), Govt. of Manipur
15. Kamal Jaswal IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Department of Information Technology, GoI
16. Vinod C. Khanna IFS (Retd.) Former Additional Secretary, MEA, GoI
17. Rahul Khullar IAS (Retd.) Former Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
18. K. John Koshy IAS (Retd.) Former State Chief Information Commissioner, West Bengal
19. Subodh Lal IPoS (Retd.) Former Deputy Director General, Ministry of Communications, GoI
20. Harsh Mander IAS (Retd.) Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

 

21. Lalit Mathur IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, National Institute of Rural Development, GoI
22. Aditi Mehta IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan
23. Sonalini Mirchandani IFS (Resigned) GoI
24. Noor Mohammad IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, National Disaster Management Authority, Govt. of India
25. Deb Mukharji IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to Bangladesh and former Ambassador to Nepal
26. Shiv Shankar Mukherjee IFS (Retd.) Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
27. Nagalswamy IA&AS (Retd.) Former Principal Accountant General, Tamil Nadu & Kerala
28. P.G.J. Nampoothiri IPS (Retd.) Former Director General of Police, Govt. of Gujarat
29. Surendra Nath IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Finance Commission, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh
30. Amitabha Pande IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Inter-State Council, GoI
31. C. Babu Rajeev IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, GoI

 

32. Satwant Reddy IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, GoI
33. Aruna Roy IAS (Resigned)  
34. Deepak Sanan IAS (Retd.) Former Principal Adviser (AR) to Chief Minister, Govt. of Himachal Pradesh
35. G. Sankaran IC&CES (Retd.) Former President, Customs, Excise and Gold (Control) Appellate Tribunal
36. S. Satyabhama IAS (Retd.) Former Chairperson, National Seeds Corporation, GoI
37. N.C. Saxena

 

IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary, Planning Commission, GoI
38. Ardhendu Sen

 

IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary, Govt. of West Bengal
39. Ashok Kumar Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Finland and Estonia
40. Navrekha Sharma IFS (Retd.) Former Ambassador to Indonesia

 

41. Raju Sharma IAS (Retd.) Former Member, Board of Revenue, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh
42. Har Mander Singh IAS (Retd.) Former Director General, ESI Corporation, GoI
43. Parveen Talha IRS (Retd.) Former Member, Union Public Service Commission
44. Thanksy Thekkekera IAS (Retd.) Former Additional Chief Secretary, Minorities Development, Govt. of Maharashtra
45. P.S.S. Thomas IAS (Retd.) Former Secretary General, National Human Rights Commission
46. Hindal Tyabji IAS (Retd.) Former Chief Secretary rank, Govt. of Jammu & Kashmir

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