Former IPS officer Julio Ribeiro has been in the news recently over a letter that had been written to the Delhi Police regarding their supposedly flawed investigation into the communal riots that occurred in Delhi in the month of February. Ribeiro questioned the Police’s supposed lack of action against “BJP stalwarts” while ‘doubting the patriotism’ of “true patriots” such as Harsh Mander and Delhi University professor Apoorvanand.
To be clear, Harsh Mander, who Julio Ribeiro calls a “true patriot”, is a member of an Italian organisation that works closely with the Italian government and its secret services in order to help them achieve their foreign policy objectives. In addition to this, Mander is also closely associated with George Soros, the American Billionaire who has declared war upon nationalists and nationalism, including Prime Minister Modi.
Thus, it is quite evident that Ribeiro’s definition of a ‘true patriot’ may not be entirely consistent with the dictionary definition of it, or how the term is understood in popular culture. As it so happens, Julio Ribeiro is part of a collective that calls itself the ‘Constitutional Conduct Group’ (CCG). The primary objective of CCG appears to be composing open letters in order to build undue pressure upon institutions.
In every open letter that it releases, CCG states, “We are a group of former civil servants belonging to the All India and Central Services who have worked with the Central Government as well as different State Governments of India. As a group, we have no affiliation with any political party but believe in being neutral, impartial and committed to the Constitution of India.” Interestingly, however, every single time, their open letters endorse political positions that lie on the liberal end of the political spectrum.
Sudarshan News Open Letter
The CCG has written an open letter to the Home Minister, Chairman of the UPSC, Minorities Commission, and other authorities demanding action against Sudarshan News for what it called a ‘malicious campaign to promote hatred and divisiveness in society’. Consequently, the letter said, “We, therefore, urge the Union Home Ministry, the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi, the Chief Minister, Delhi and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi to order the lodging of FIRs under the relevant legal provisions.”
It added, “We also request the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the News Broadcasting Standards Authority of India to investigate whether or not the show would run afoul of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, read with the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994, and the Code of Ethics and Broadcasting Standards and take suitable action.”
“The National Human Rights Commission, the Minorities Commission, and the Union Public Service Commission are also requested to take notice of this vicious hate campaign to malign a particular religion and community through the propagation of slanted news that will not stand scrutiny by any objective criterion,” it stated. Among others, the letter was signed by Harsh Mander, former NSA Shivshankar Menon and Julio Ribeiro himself. Other than Mander, Menon also sits on the Board of Trustees of an organisation with George Soros.
Facebook Open Letter
There was some controversy recently over the conduct of one of Facebook India employees who was accused of unfairly favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party. While it was evident from the beginning that the allegations levelled at Ankhi Das were politically motivated, the CCG composed an open letter on that as well and decided to pile up the pressure on Facebook. The open letter addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was penned on the 24th of August.
The open letter stated, “…we are surprised that Facebook did not take action against some clear and serial offenders in India – persons like T Raja Singh and a few others – for their derogatory comments against people belonging to a different religion, accusing Muslims of spreading Covid 19, indulging in ’love jehad’ and various other misdemeanours. What is striking about Facebook’s leniency towards these persons is that all of them happen to be members of the political party in power.”
It continued, “We are writing to you in the expectation that you will make serious efforts to audit the implementation of Facebook’s hate speech policy in India and, while such an audit is under way, ensure that the present Public Policy Head of Facebook, India, is not in a position to influence the investigations.”
“We also fervently hope that in future, you will not let your company’s business prospects stand in the way of implementing your own policy against hate speech and posts which can lead to hate crimes. This is a sure way of demonizing minorities and inflicting violence upon them while undermining the democratic and secular basis of the Indian Constitution,” it added.
Unlike the Sudarshan News open letter which was signed by 91 individuals, this was signed by only 54. However. Harsh Mander and Julio Ribeiro did appear on the list of signatories apart from a few others who appear to be regulars.
Statement on the Rule of Law and Article 19 of Indian Constitution
The CCG issued a statement on the 4th of July that “arises from our deep concern at the assault on the Rule of Law in India and on its citizens’ rights to free speech and dissent, basic elements of any democracy.” In that statement as well, the CCG made a valiant defence of its ideological compatriots such as Harsh Mander and Kafeel Khan and relied on like-minded individuals such as Amartya Sen to bolster their argument.
It said in its letter, “The rampant erosion of the rule of law in evidence today militates against the actualization of the freedom of speech which is the cornerstone of democratic functioning. The gulf between the Rule of Law rhetoric and reality is getting wider and wider. The police establishments across the country appear to have become proxies for the respective ruling parties.”
In the statement, they defended ‘Urban Naxals’ such as Gautam Navlakha, who has links to Pakistan’s ISI, and Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen and Anand Teltumbde as well as ‘hundreds of political activists’ in Kashmir. Siddharth Varadarajan, who is in the dock for spreading fake news about UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, was also defended by the collective of ’eminent citizens’. The letter had 99 signatories.
Defence of Harsh Mander
CCG came out in strong defence of the Italian Secret Services linked ‘activist’ Harsh Mander. In an open letter to the media, that was signed by Julio Ribeiro, Soros-aide Shivshankar Menon and others, the collective claimed that the ‘activist’ was being unfairly vilified and claimed that his incendiary speech on the 16th of December was ‘mischaracterised’.
The letter said, “We are writing to you to please consider whether you can bring to the notice of the general public the continued misrepresentation and mischaracterization of his speech at Jamia Millia on December 16, 2019, and the possible misuse of law against a champion of non-violence and believer in the rule of law. In the meanwhile, those political leaders who publicly used hate speech and incited violence roam free with impunity.”
Campaign against CAA-NRC-NPR
In yet another open letter, this time signed by over a hundred individuals, the collective called for the repeal of the Citizenship Amendment Act and provided a lengthy explanation of why CAA-NRC-NPR is not necessary. The letter was addressed to the citizens of India but it was not ready by too many Indians outside of their echo-chamber. It is unlikely that it would have changed anyone’s mind either.
The open letter stated, “The provisions of the CAA, coupled with rather aggressive statements over the past few years from the highest levels of this government, rightly cause deep unease in India’s Muslim community, which has already faced discrimination and attacks on issues ranging from allegations of love jihad to cattle smuggling and beef consumption.”
“That the Muslim community has had to face the brunt of police action in recent days only in those states where the local police is controlled by the party in power at the centre only adds credence to the widespread feeling that the NPR-NRIC exercise could be used for selective targeting of specific communities and individuals,” it added.
The letter also raised concerns about the “constitutional validity of the CAA provisions, which we also consider to be morally indefensible.” It continued, “Above all, we see a situation developing where India is in danger of losing international goodwill and alienating its immediate neighbours, with adverse consequences for the security set-up in the sub-continent. India also stands to lose its position as a moral beacon guiding many other countries on the path to liberal democracy.”
Apart from demanding a repeal of the CAA, the open letter demanded the repeal of “Sections 14A and 18 (2) (ia) of the Citizenship Act, 1955, pertaining to the issue of national identity cards and its procedures and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 in its entirety” and the withdrawal of “the Foreigners (Tribunals) Amendment Order, 2019” and “instructions for construction of detention camps.”
Other Open Letters
By this point, readers would have realised that Julio Ribeiro and his band of ’eminent citizens’ love writing and signing open letters. Apart from the ones mentioned here, the CCG has written open letters on a variety of political issues, always siding with the left. The collective penned an open letter on Ram Janmabhoomi on the 6th of December 2019.
On December 5, it penned a letter on supposed irregularities in the conduct of the Lok Sabha Elections of 2019. In October the same year, CCG wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the ‘victimization’ of ‘honest civil servants’. On the 24th of April, an open letter was penned against the candidature of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur from Bhopal.
On and on the open letter saga goes. It does not appear to have had any impact on anything significant as of yet; however, it could not be blamed on a lack of effort.