Thursday, October 28, 2010

Arundhati Roy: Pity the Nation
October 27, 2010

I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

Arundhati Roy
October 26 2010

See also Section 124 A: An Evil Law by Ajit Sahi for more on what may be an emerging case to arrest Roy for sedition.


desert demons said...

i'm convinced that her arrest will be a PR disaster for India and She's heroic as usual

Ridwan said...

Hi desert demons:

I am a great fan of Roy and it worries me that she is being hounded in this way.

I just read a petition that is calling for her immediate arrest.

It has garnered eleven thousand plus signatures already.

The petition is addressed to the Indian prime minister and opens with the following:

"We the Indian people strongly urge the Indian government to strongly take action to prosecute Arundhati Roy and other anti nationals like her who use their celebrity status and parade on the basis of anti India elements. In August 2008 this self serving individual had no compunction in sharing the stage with religious fascists promoting hate and division in Kashmir. She has a track record in supporting ideological extremists in India engaged in terrorising millions of people to promote balkanisation of our nation and further demoralise Indian security forces fighting terrorism to protect innocent lives."

What nonsense!

I spent ten days in Kashmir three years ago and must say that no other place reminded me more of apartheid South Africa.

I speak of the manner that Indian troops patrol menacingly through the streets while the locals are pushed and prodded at just about every corner.

The look of imperial disdain is hard to ignore.

Kashmir does not belong to India. Jammu does not belong to India.

In 'removed' spaces folks will tell you how much they despise their occupation.

As I listened to such conversations it was as if I was re-living apartheid and its oppression.

I have many Indian friends who will not be happy with what I am saying here.

But let the truth be known ... 'free Jammu and Kashmir from Indian imperialism and occupation'.

And, leave Arundhati Roy to express her thoughts freely.

Thanks desert demons for your comment.

Peace to you.


ps. In case you have not read the despicable petition see it here: