Over 200 Indian writers on Monday issued an appeal to Indians to vote out hate politics in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and vote for a “diverse and equal India”. The writers include Girish Karnad, Arundhati Roy, Amitav Ghosh, Bama, Nayantara Sahgal, TM Krishna, Vivek Shanbhag, Jeet Thayil, K Satchidanandan and Romila Thapar.

The writers issued the appeal in English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bangla, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu languages.

The 210 signatories said the country is at a crossroads in the upcoming polls. “Our Constitution guarantees all its citizens equal rights, the freedom to eat, pray and live as they choose, freedom of expression and the right to dissent,” they added. “But in the last few years, we have seen citizens being lynched or assaulted or discriminated against because of their community, caste, gender, or the region they come from.”

They said hate politics has been used to divide India. “Writers, artists, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural practitioners have been hounded, intimidated, and censored,” they alleged. “Anyone who questions the powers-that-be is in danger of being harassed or arrested on false and ridiculous charges.”

The writers said there is a need for strong measures to combat violence against women, Dalits, adivasis and minorities. “We want resources and measures for jobs, education, research, healthcare and equal opportunities for all,” they said. “Most of all, we want to safeguard our diversity and let democracy flourish.”

The signatories said that voting out hate politics is the “critical first step”. “Vote out the division of our people, vote out inequality, vote against violence, intimidation and censorship,” they said. “This is the only way we can vote for an India that renews the promises made by our Constitution.”

The 2019 General Elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.

The list of writers who signed is here.