The case against Arundhati Roy

Deze gastbijdrage is van Aletta André, correspondent in New Delhi. Het stuk is ook op haar site te lezen.

Arundhati RoyA case hase been filed against Arundhati Roy – a writer/activist who in the Netherlands is most known from her novel The God of Small Things. The reason: in October she spoke at a conference in Delhi on Kashmir titled “Azadi [freedom], the only way”, together with Kashmiri separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani and a few others.

The charges include, I quote: “sedition; promoting enmity between classes; imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration; insult intended to provoke breach of peace; and false statement, rumour circulated with intent to cause mutiny or offence against public peace – all of which have to be read with Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967.” With the case being registered, Roy now faces arrest and if convicted, the maximum punishment is life imprisonment.

Earlier, after seeking political opinion, the Union Home Ministry had decided not to file a case against Roy and the others, but the police registered a case anyway this week after certain individuals filed complaints.

Apparently, its illegal to speak out your mind in India. Cleverly, Arundhati Roy responded in an article, saying that there should perhaps be filed a case posthumously against Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, too. She goes on in quoting him on thirteen different occasions in the 1940s and -50s saying that India should listen to the people of Kashmir, and act according to their wishes. A referendum, advised by the UN at that time, has never been held.

Now everyone has their opinion about Arundhati Roy and many of them are not positive. But in any case, she is a writer, an activist, someone who shares her opinions at several platforms and occasions. Nothing less, nothing more. I have to agree with today’s Indian Express leader, that calls the story worrying and argues not to book Roy, asking: “What kind of state are we, anyway? Prickly and immature, submitting to our worst, controlling impulses? Or tolerant, stable, modern?”

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