Sunday, October 31, 2010

Statement by Arundhati Roy after her house was attacked

Arundhati Roy, October 31, 2010

A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing). After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen. What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the ‘scene’ in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime? This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir. So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers. The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly announced that they are going to “fix” me with all the means at their disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to which they are capable of going. So, while the Government is showing a degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice? I can understand that the BJP's Mahila Morcha is using me to distract attention the from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured. But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or is it a question of ideological alignment?
Arundhati Roy
October 31st 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Arundhati Roy: The debater of big things

An Editorial published in the Guardian on Thursday, 28th October, 2010
The novelist has bravely used her position to draw attention to the unjustifiable repression of unrest in the Kashmir valley
Above Photo: Arundhati Roy during an event 
"Whither Kashmir? Freedom or Enslavement?" at Srinagar
On trial for sedition in 1922, Mahatma Gandhi told the court in Ahmedabad, Gujarat: "I have no desire whatsoever to conceal from this court that to preach disaffection towards the existing system of government has become almost a passion with me." Sedition "in law is a deliberate crime", he admitted, but it "appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen". History does not repeat itself, nor does it always rhyme. Still, the words of the father of modern India come to mind when considering the case of Arundhati Roy, who faces arrest under pretty much the same colonial sedition laws that earned Gandhi a six-year prison sentence.

The writer is under threat of a sedition charge after claiming in Delhi this weekend that "Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this." Ever since, the rightwing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party has been demanding the author's arrest and trial. The party's general secretary claimed: "Anyone speaking against India should be hanged."

As sentiments go, this is both daft and directly contrary to the Indian tradition of open debate and healthy dissent – and the Congress-led government should say so. The BJP may find Ms Roy's position shocking, but her comments are hardly new – she has been making similar public statements for years now. Nor is her argument a novel one; as the author (and occasional contributor to this paper) points out, she has only been voicing "what millions of people ... say every day". All she has done is bravely use her position to draw attention to the unjustifiable repression of unrest in the Kashmir valley that has been taking place over the past few months. Rather than chase after a novelist for speaking at a seminar, the Delhi government would be better off investigating the 100-plus people who are believed to have died in violence in Kashmir since June.

When Ms Roy won the Booker for The God of Small Things in 1997, the Indian press celebrated her as a powerful writer, an international success and an addition to the country's deservedly renowned literature. To be all those things means also having the liberty to speak your own mind – as Indians know very well. As Amartya Sen points out in his book The Argumentative Indian, there is a long, deep tradition in the country's discourse, of encouraging argument from all comers. Mr Sen quotes a poem from the 19th-century Bengali writer Ram Mohun Roy help make his case: "Just consider how terrible the day of your death will be. Others will go on speaking and you won't be able to argue back." Such sentiments are far more Indian than nonsense from irate BJP activists. ©

Also, wanted to share a video on her stand on Kashmir. below is an interview with Democracy Now, that clears many doubts about the dynamics of the dispute and the present scenario. The video is taken from Democracy Now.

The above image is clicked on my Canon EOS 1000D.
(Specifications on request)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Little Mermaid

O train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears!
- William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors

Image is clicked on my Fujifilm Finepix S7000
(Specifications on request)

Amnesty to host live chat over twitter about human rights in Kashmir

Govind Acharya of Amnesty Intenational will be holding a live chat over twitter from twitter handle @acharya_dude. The best way to ask a question is to address the twitter message to Govind on @acharya_dude as well as include a hash tag #askai in your message. Appretiate this move by AI to hear the voices.
WHEN: Thursday, October 14, 10am – 11am Eastern US Time (19:30 in India/Kashmir)
Please click on the below given link for more details.
One of my photographs has also been published by Amnesty International on this blog. Here is the direct link.

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