Major opposition parties met President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday and put forth their concerns over recent incidents of violence, including attacks by cow vigilantes, and attempts to "muzzle voices of dissent".
A delegation of leaders of various political parties, led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, called on the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and sought his urgent intervention "to ensure the rule of law" in the country.
They presented a memorandum to him listing their various concerns and urged the President to ensure that constitutional democracy and fundamental rights of citizens are protected.
Leaders of prominent opposition parties including the Congress, the Left parties, the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Janata Dal were part of the delegation.
After the delegation met the President, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "An environment of fear and insecurity is prevailing in the country and voices of dissent are being muzzled."
"We have requested the President for his urgent intervention to protect India's constitutional democracy and safeguard the fundamental rights of citizens to ensure the rule of law in this country," he told reporters.
The delegation also raised issues of alleged EVM tampering during their meeting.
Azad said the delegation drew the attention of the President to the recent political developments which have "seriously undermined the accepted norms of governance and institutional integrity".
He said an environment of fear and insecurity is prevailing in the country and voices of dissent are being muzzled.
"In a democracy, the rule of law must prevail, but self-styled lumpen elements have indulged in violence, mob lynching of citizens and harassment is being witnessed across the country," he said.
He cited recent incidents of lynching of a dairy farmer in Alwar in Rajasthan and similar incidents in Una in Gujarat, Dadri in Uttar Pradesh and Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir, besides many others across the country.
The delegation also raised the issue that critical appointments have been made "arbitrarily bypassing the Parliament and other institutions".
They also alleged that key legislations are being "disguised" as Money Bills "to bypass and undermine the Constitution position of Rajya Sabha".
Azad said the states ruled by non-Bharatiya Janata Party 'are being destabilised by misusing the powers of Governors and artificial majority is cobbled up by unethical means" and recent examples of Goa and Manipur were cited in this regard.
The issue of malfunctioning and alleged tampering of EVM machines were also raised with the President, that have reportedly raised questions on the sanctity of electoral process, particularly in recently-concluded elections.
He said in this regard the opposition parties have already met the Election Commission, which has promised to convene an all-party meeting on the issue.
"There has been an attack on cultural, academic and historical institutions, universities, especially Nalanda University and the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library," he said.
"The continuous violence and failure of governance in Jammu and Kashmir is a matter of grave national concern," he said.
Azad also added that all central agencies -- the Central Bureau of Investigation, Income Tax and the Enforcement Directorate -- are being used to harass leaders of political parties, particularly chief ministers.
"There has never been such harassment of chief ministers and leaders of political parties," he said.
Besides Manmohan and Sonia, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma were part of the delegation.
The memorandum was also signed by Tariq Anwar (NCP), Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), Dharmendra Yadav and Neeraj Shekhar (SP), D Raja (CPI), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Kalyan Banerjee (TMC), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), V Elangovan (DMK) and others.
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo, Rashtrapati Bhavan