Kolkata/New Delhi: Expressing anguish at the number of “religious identity-based hate crimes” in India, a group of eminent citizens has said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that ‘Jai Shri Ram’ has become a provocative war cry with many lynchings taking place in its name.The July 23 letter, which also stressed that there is “no democracy without dissent”, is signed by 49 celebrities from various fields, including filmmakers Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Aparna Sen as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal, historian Ramchandra Guha and sociologist Ashis Nandy. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details”We, as peace-loving and proud Indians, are deeply concerned about several tragic events that have been happening in recent times in our beloved country,” the open letter to Modi said. “The lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately. We were shocked to learn from the NCRB that there have been no less than 840 instances of atrocities against Dalits in the year 2016, and a definite decline in the percentage of convictions,” it continued. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayThe letter also referred to findings of the “FactChecker in-database” and the”Citizen’s Religious Hate-Crime Watch” and said the number of “religious identity-based hate crimes” had gone up in the last nine years; 62 per cent of the victims belonged to the Muslim community. “About 90 per cent of these attacks were reported after May 2014, when your government assumed power nationally,” the signatories told the prime minister. Criticising the lynchings in Parliament is not enough, the civil society leaders said. “What action has been taken against the perpetrators? We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non-bailable, and that exemplary punishment should be meted out swiftly and surely.” If someone criticises the ruling party, it does not imply they are against the nation, the letter said. The signatories to the letter also include Bengali cinema thespian Soumitro Chatterjee, southern filmmaker-actor Revathy, directors Mani Ratnam and Shyam Benegal and social activist Binayak Sen.