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Arundhati Roy's dangerous Kashmiri cause


On Tuesday the Indian government took steps to authorize the arrest of author Arundhati Roy for "sedition" because of statements she has made about the territory of Kashmir. In response, Roy, a Booker Prize-winning novelist, says she has simply called for justice. "I said what millions of people here say every day," she said in a written statement e-mailed from Srinagar, Kashmir.

Kashmir is the mountainous territory at the northern tip of India bordered by Pakistan, China and Afghanistan. In 1947, after the partition that accompanied India and Pakistan's independence from Britain, Kashmir became part of India. Yet the region has remained the focus of disputes between India and Pakistan, with wars between being fought over the territory in 1947-48 and 1965, and further conflicts in 1971-72. The region has become a lightning rod between India and Pakistan over a number of disputes, including nuclear activities, secular/religious tension and state security.

The long-standing conflicts over the region have bled into daily life, evolving into what L.A. Times reporter Mark Magnier describes as a "murky cycle of violence." A half-million Indian security forces are in the region, enforcing curfews and other restrictions and manning checkpoints.

This summer, tensions in Kashmir were inflamed after a number of incidents involving security forces: It came to light that Indian security forces killed three civilians, then staged a firefight to make it appear as though the killings had been committed by militants; two officers were suspended. Three teenagers were killed in June when security forces fired on a demonstration calling for independence. Another died in early July when he used a drainage canal to flee from security forces and drowned.

"Politicians, academics and human rights groups have long cited a culture of impunity among security forces in Kashmir," Magnier reports, "epitomized by a controversial 1990 national law granting soldiers the right to detain or eliminate all suspected terrorists and destroy their property without fear of prosecution. Critics have called the provision, which doesn't clearly define 'terrorists,' as a license to kill."

Arundhati Roy's Tuesday statement reflects on these issues. "Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice," she wrote. "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."

Roy's recent speech was made at a politically charged event in New Delhi on Oct. 21, the Wall Street Journal reports. "A group of more than 16 speakers consisting of politicians, activists, writers, artists and academicians from across India who participated in the convention asked the Indian state to 'formally admit that Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute' and urged 'all democratic people in the world at large to pressurize the Indian state to take immediate steps in this regard.' "

A congressional representative was quick to point out that Roy holds no elected office, maintaining that her position is "not in the political mainstream."

Nevertheless, steps were taken to file charges against her for her statements. "A go-ahead to file a case of sedition against hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geenlani and activist Arundhati Roy has been given to Delhi Police by the Union Home Ministry," the Times of India reported Monday.

"Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds," Roy writes.
Literary figures have been lining up in agreement. "One of the few voices in India who has spoken loudly against the continuing Indian atrocities in Kashmir, she is now being threatened," writes historian Tariq Ali on the London Review of Books blog. "If she doesn’t shut up they’ll charge her with sedition, aping their colonial masters of yesteryear."
"Since June, Kashmiri journalists and broadcasters attempting to report on unrest in Indian-administered Kashmir have been subject to violence and gagging," says Lisa Appignanesi, president of English PEN, which has called for the Indian government to withdraw the threatened charges. "The truth of what is happening in Kashmir needs to be told. Brutality by the state, and the silencing of reporters, is no option for a modern India."

In addition to winning the Man Booker prize in 1997 for her novel "The God of Small Things," Arudhati Roy is a recipient of the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize.

 -- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: An Indian army soldier kicks the door of a residential house during a search operation near the site of a gun battle with suspected militants in Maloora on the outskirts of Srinagar, Kashmir, on Oct. 21, 2010. Credit: Danish Ismail / Reuters

Comments () | Archives (15)

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Kashmir issue is now an international issue and what is happening in Kashmir is not hidden,whole world knows about it. It is so sensitive that it's good that the people involved in it should speak. By commenting on it publicly is not the right thing to do.Freedom of speach should not be misused.

Kashmir is the worlds most heavily militarised zone. It is a well known widespread fact that kashmiris were never Indian at heart. The feeling is mutual, the Indian army inturn treats kashmiris as alien citizens.

I will not delve into the well known topics. I wish to present a phenomeneon which is highly unfortunate, yet never features in news. The landscape of kashmir contains the river Indus. What emnates from Tibet as a frozen mass is nurtured by lakes and streams of kashmir into the mighty river Indus which has been the sign of civilization for 10,000 years. Today due to such heavy army presence even river Indus is under threat. Recruits in India's army are people from Indias remote hamlets where education is a rare commodity, these people occupy the most picturesque parts of kashmir and litter around with foeces. Indus has recently reported a high amount of contamination. The educated world should view this as the most serious thread posed by kashmir imbroglio. Pakistan and India have failed to resolve this issue for 63 years. The democratic world must intervene NOW.

Tell me one place where armed soldiers fight infiltrators and control mobs attacking them and the deaths are under one a day and there are no human rights abuses. While it is true that rights must be respected, it is unrealistic to expect soldiers experiencing attacks coming from the civilian population to feel rosy about them. And no, it isn't the entire state that feels like that. Jammu and Ladakh regions are fighting to dissociate themselves from this mess. Jammu wants to be a state, while Ladakh wants to be a Union territory - WITH INDIA. Infiltrators are caught by the army because of civilian informers - why would they do that if they hated India? There is definitely anger against the government over the much publicized rights abuses, which were also systematically leveraged. For example, abuses are shouted from the rooftops. Culprits being punished aren't. The abuses continue to be listed as injustices to fuel anger and start riots. Yet, the common man of Kashmir has had enough of these constant strikes, but no power to influence either the strikes or the curfews. Their struggle is one for normalcy - not Azadi. However, it isn't as interesting in terms of media fodder, or fueling opinions.

Please do not give credit to the person who claims to hold the baton of liberty and justice in India. If someone were to ask in a public forum for the secession of California to Mexico would the US Government be all forgiving? I think the strength of Indian democracy is the ability of the likes of Ms. Roy to voice their opinion. However, to take an anti establishment view without understanding the details is become a habit for Ms.Roy. She has not understood the issues at hand. If someone studies the history of J&K, the military occupation of J&K came in place after 1990, the year when the valley was "cleansed" of Hindu minorities and terrorism began to unfold. Please get your facts right before writing such articles that are superficial about sensitive topics.

"(S)He who fights with monsters should look to it that (s)he him/herself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."(FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Beyond Good and Evil)
Trading charges will not do ...now...
Will I be heretical?
Arundhati is right in more senses than one...
Democracies are fascist states too...
The only difference being in a democracy things happen
as illusions...
Voices are muzzled differently...with dreams or money...
Those crying for secession from India...are often garlanded...offered doles...they raise anti-India slogans...their supporters back them...
The Governmeent should hold its house in order first...
The country which seethes...must be made right first...
People like Arundhati will hold out dissenting voices,for sure...
Solve the problems in Kashmir and other regions first...
Charge individuals later...!!!

Roy needs lessons in Indian History, and must not distort facts. Even Pakistan was an integral part of India, if not Independent India to say. However, when it comes to Kashmir, its integrity is clear with the accession to Independent India by the then Maharaj Hari Singh. The plebiscite by Nehru was a way to quell violence because India is a responsible nation that believes in the principle of Mahatma Gandhi of non-violence and not like the Quid-E-Azam of Pak who called for Jehad or Direct Action Day in order to grab a separate state - the world knows that! Please see the film 'Gandhi' by Attenborough - and objectively come up with the decision- who is the world hero? Jinnah or Gandhi? Also please note that the UN clearly says it does not want to interfere and so does US, because they know who is right, and who is completely wrong. Separatists are NOT stakeholders so there is no need to talk to them. Yes, we can listen to Kashmiri brothers and sisters because they are our own and they share Indian blood. It is pity that article 370, Pak extremism and biased separatists have poisoned you. To Kashmiris, the moment you get independence from India, China and Pak will attack you and feed you to the dogs. Please remember: "Sarfaroshi ki kshama dil me jalaaa low yaarow, Zindagi maut naa banjaayey sambhalow yaaro" Please Kashmiri brothers and sisters don't dig your grave for demanding 'Aazadi' because your enemy is not India, the real enemy is alienation ... jai Hind

Freedom for Kashmir!

India should be ashamed for its failure to comply with 18 separate United Nations Resolutions on the Right of the Self Determination for Kashmir.

Indian soldiers rape women in Kashmir on a daily basis.

The Indian Army kills Kashmiri children on the way to school every morning.

India has banned TV channels from broadcasting and stopped the publication of newspapers in Kashmir. India restricts the freedom of movement and access to food & medical supplies.

India has been the COLONIAL OCCUPYING POWER in Kashmir since 1947. There are 800,000 Indian troops to OPPRESS the 4 million Kashmiris in the Vale.

Kashmir wants freedom from India, Pakistan and China. Complete Independence and Liberty for Kashmir.

The United States must support Kashmir's fight for Justice, Liberty and Freedom. Kashmir has been fighting for independence since its occupation by the British in 19th century.

Freedom for Kashmir.


we d ppl of kashmir r living under illegal occupation of india . kashmir was never acceded 2 india . the document of kashmir's accession with india that india claims to ve signed with then king of kashmir hari singh is not valid . some of the historians even say such document was never signed alester lamb says in his book on kashmir ........after taking kashmir issue 2 d UN in 1948 india was asked 2 produce d 'document o9f accession of kashmir" which india has not shown till today . now last year india came up with an excuse that the said document is lost , as if it ever existed . now since india illegally occupies kashmir then arms struggle to liberate kashmir which broke out in 1990's is justifiable

It's strange that a writer of such stature fails to understand one simple thing that it's not the will but the duty of our armed forces to stand there to safegaurd the nation's right to freedom from infiltrators who have been hurting the nation and not giving us a single day of peace from the day of separation.

The armed forces are there to protect our people.

Why do human rights people not shout at the doors of these infiltrators?

Having freedom of speech does not imply giving statements without a thought.

If so much hurt by the feelings then please stand up and solve the persisting issue then giving such statements.

It is indeed a matter of pride that we as Indians, have the freedom to speak and voice our opinions on issues. However the question is how responsible are we in exercising this right? As a writer of repute and one I like too, Arundhati Roy should not misuse the freedom she is afforded just by virtue of being a creative person. The armed forces posted there are in Kashmir not by choice..but as part of a duty for which they risk their lives everyday..day in and day out.

If the Nazis had not been defeated, who knows, the French might have lived on as part of Germany under the Vichy regime. How long would the French Resistance have fought before giving up? India has held Kashmir for six decades and after all this time the people of Kashmir still want freedom.

Arundhati Roy’s statement on Kashmir has exposed her lack of knowledge of the real India. She is an author and should limit herself to the dream world in which she lives and writes books. A piece of advice to her, please stop such cheap ways to attain publicity and should feel proud to be an Indian citizen as she is still safe after anti India statement. She looks a bit foolish doing things other than writing fiction.

Kashmir is very much part of India, why all this fuss, all autorocities caused either my army, police whover could have been avoided! There is a Occupied Kashmir in China n Pakistan, go there all who feel for that! Theres is no militarization, police, One can live there in peace n harmony with full rights of expression:-) Then all the pundits driven away could come back and live with the rest of the peaceloving kashmiris, who want kashmir to prosper as the rest of India! Thats not too much to ask for IS IT!!!

Arundhati Roy is now reaching lunatic and schizo levels. Even the intellectuals and liberals are dumping her

A lot of these so called Arundhati Roys want attention and the
Only way to be noticed is to rake up matters.
These folks have in their life never contribute to
What's happening now. They act like innocent
Bystanders and comment when the time is right.

They have no spirit of nationalism. They just ride the wave
Of anti establishment.

Let's put people like these incharge. God save the earth


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