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A group of scientists and researchers have issued a statement ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, urging citizens to vote wisely – “against inequality, intimidation, discrimination, and unreason”.

Scientists said citizens must ‘reject those who lynch or assault people’ and those who ‘encourage such practices’.

The statement said: “The upcoming election is a crucial one. It asks for a re-affirmation of the most fundamental guarantees our Constitution gives us: equal rights to faith or lack thereof; culture; language; association; personal liberty and freedom of expression. These rights, even as they accrue to each of us individually, can only exist if they accrue to all Indian citizens – without partiality or discrimination.”

The statement was signed by 154 scientists, researchers and academics from various institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, the Indian Statistical Institute, Ashoka University and the Indian Institutes of Technology.

“We cannot endorse a politics that divides us, creates fears, and marginalises a large fraction of our society – women, dalits, Adivasis, religious minorities, the persons with disabilities or the poor,” the statement read. “Diversity is our democracy’s greatest strength; discrimination and non-inclusivity strike at its very foundation.”

Separately, over 600 theatres artistes have urged people not to vote against the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) in the upcoming elections.

The statement released in 12 languages on April 4, includes support artistes like, Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sen Sharma, Amol Palekar, Dolly Thakore, Girish Karnad, Lillete Dubey, Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Mahesh Dattani, MK Raina, Chandana Roy Sanyal and Sanjna Kapoor.

The statement urges people to not vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections but to protect and empower the weak, our liberty, and environment.

The statement reads, “Today, that very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat. The institutions that have to nurture argument, debate and dissent have been suffocated. To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals.”

The first phase of the Lok Sabha elections will take place on April 11, and will be followed by six more rounds until May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.

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