Citizens Letter to the President of India in Defence of Nafisa Ali who is facing legal charges by the BJP Govt in Gujarat for speaking up against the communal carnage in Gujarat

4, Windsor Place, New Delhi-110001
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Tel- 23327367 9811807558

Released to the press by

Shabnam Hashmi

On behalf of Anhad


The Honourable President of India
Rashtrapati Bhawan
New Delhi

August 29, 2003


On the event of Independence Day, the Government of Gujarat slapped charges of inciting communal hatred (under Section 153 A of the IPC) on social worker and senior film actress Nafisa Ali. Among the co-accused named by the state government for abetment of her alleged offence were two daily newspapers, Indian Express and Divya Bhaskar.

Nafisa Ali visited Gujarat on a goodwill visit from 2-4 August, 2003. She went to Godhra, Vadodara and Ahmedabad to spread the messages of peace and justice.

Apart from the survivors of the carnage, she met a wide range of college students, business professionals, social workers, intellectuals and with journalists as well. She also addressed gathering at the Ahmedabad Management Association, Mudra Institute of Communication, Ahmedabad and Centre for Development Communication.

In her lectures and interactions, she expressed her deep love and regard for Gujarat, and enormous anguish and concern at the carnage and its aftermath. She continuously emphasised the imperative to rebuild communal harmony and trust, to defend the cultural diversity, which makes Indian civilization so rich, and to secure justice for the survivors of the carnage.

She also made some strong comments against Chief Minister Narendra Modi. She is quoted in the Indian Express of 5 August, 2003 to have stated ŃJust like the people of HitlerĒs country are ashamed of him, people will be of Modi too. Men can be good or bad, you cannot blame an entire religion as good or bad. This isnĒt justice in a democracy-the State and Centre are trying to polarize the country. Its amazing how Narendra Modi can say that itĒs Pakistan behind it all. Indeed what Britishers couldnĒt do Modi has done. HeĒs divided people on the basis of communalism.ā

The government of Gujarat filed 2 FIRs against Ms Ali as prime accused on 14th August, 2003, and the reporter and editor of Indian Express and editor and publisher of the Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar for reporting. The allegation against Ms. Ali was that she was promoting enmity between different groups and acting prejudicial to maintenance of harmony and thereby was culpable under Section 153-A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

It is absurd to charge Ms. Ali of fomenting communal hatred. On the contrary, she was courageously raising her voice for justice, pluralism, harmony and peace.

It is deeply ominous for the survival of democracy that her words of healing and of democratic dissent, that can by no stretch of imagination be described as communal or inflammatory, have invited the wrath of the state government, even as those guilty of leading mobs for slaughter, rape and plunder walk free, and leaders like Dr. Praveen Togadia continue to openly incite communal hatred in distant corners of the country.

We demand the immediate withdrawal of the vengeful and malafide charges of inciting communal hatred, which have been made against social worker Nafisa Ali by the Gujarat government. Instead, people who actually continue to incite communal hatred should be restrained and punished, and justice and rehabilitation ensured for the survivors of the carnage of 2002.


Shabnam Hashmi
on behalf of

1. Achin Vinayak, Professor, Third World Academy
2. Admiral Ramdas, Social Activist, Retired Admiral, Indian Navy
3. Amala Akkineri, Film Actress, Hyderabad
4. Amit Sengupta, Associate Editor, Tehelka
5. Anand Patwardhan-Film Maker
6. Anant Maringanti, Minniapolis
7. Anil Nauria, Senior Lawyer, Supreme Court
8. Ann Ninan, Senior Editor, Tehelka
9. Ava Bhavsar
10. Badruddin R Gowani, Writer, LA, USA
11. Bharath Sethuraman
12. Chitra Padmanabhan, Journalist
13. Damandeep Singh, Journalist, National Geographic
14. Dhruv Raina, Professor, JNU
15. Digant Oza, Senior Journalist
16. Dr. Angana Chatterji, Associate Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies San Francisco
17. Dr. Vijaya Chandru, Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
18. Dr.Lila R.DasvermaRichland,
19. Father Cedric Prakash
20. Gauhar Raza, Scientist
21. Geeta Kapur, Art Historian
22. Geetanjali Shree, Writer
23. Githa Hariharan, Eminent Writer
24. Grish Patel, Senior Lawyer
25. Hamida Hirani
26. Harsh Kapoor
27. Harsh Mander, Social Activist
28. Huma Ghosh
29. IK Shukla, Writer, LA, USa
30. Ishaq Razaali Chinwala, Sarvodaya Activist
31. Javed Naqvi, Senior Journalist
32. John Cherian, Senior Journalist
33. John Dayal, Senior journalist
34. Jyoti Bose, Principal Springdales School
35. KG Kannabiran, President, PUCL
36. Kiran Segal, Dancer
37. Lalita Ramdas, Social Acvist
38. Mahesh Bhatt, Film Maker
39. Mihir Desai, Advocate
40. MK Venu, Senior Editor, Economic Times
41. Mohan Rao, Associate Prof. JNU
42. Nandini Sundar, Professor, JNU
43. Narsingh Rao, Film Maker, Hyderabad
44. Nishrin Hussain
45. P V Satheesh, Director, Deccan Development Society
46. Parajoy Guha Thakurta, Senior Journalist & Director School of Convergence
47. Paul Diwakar,
48. Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge
49. Purnima Joshi, Special Correspondence, Out Look
50. PVS Kumar, Scientist
51. R. Uma Maheshwari, journalist
52. Rajalakshmi, Senior Journalist
53. Rajni Kothari, Educationist, Former Member of Planning Commission
54. Rubina Husain
55. S Irfan Habib, Scientist
56. Saeeda Hamid, Social Activist and Writer
57. Sandip K.Dasverma
58. Sara Rai
59. Shabana Azmi, Social Activist and Actress
60. Shabnam Hashmi, Activist
61. Shakti Kak, Scientist
62. Shubha Mudgal, Artist
63. Sidharth Vardrajan, Deputy Editor, Times of India
64. Sohail Hashmi, Activist, Film Maker
65.  Soumitra Ghosh
66. Sudhir Chandra, Writer, Academician
67. Suma Josson, Film Maker
68. Suneeta Kaul, Journalist, Business India
69. Sunil Dutt, Social Activist, Actor
70. Tarun Tejpal, Editor in Chief, Tehelka
71. TK Ramachandran, Calicut
72. Uma V. Chandru, Research consultant, Bangalore
73. Usha Uthup, Artist , Pop Singer, Calcutta
74. Vivan Sundaram, Artist
75. Zohra Segal, Actress