Attack on Arundhati Roy’s house – her response and press note from PUDR

October 26, 2010

SOMETHING FOR THE MEDIA TO THINK ABOUT

by 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?

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Press Release from Peoples Union for Democratic Rights

Condemn Attack on Arundhati Roy’s House

November 01, 2010

On 31st October BJP’s Mahila Morcha protested outside and vandalized Arundhati Roy’s house in response to Roy’s remarks about Kashmir at a public meeting. The protestors allegedly broke through the gate and vandalized Roy’s property. On an earlier occasion in June Roy’s house had been stoned.

It is indeed ironic that a party which has been vociferously laying claims to being the protector of Indian democracy and nationhood should resort to such criminal acts, instead of protesting in a democratic manner. What’s more, the entire events having been recorded by the media circus that was present but no attempts have been made to take any action against or even censure the perpetrators, despite a complaint being made to the police. The selective action and bias becomes even more blatant when contrasted with the manner in which TV footage was immediately used as proof against Arundhati and Geelani.

PUDR urges all parties concerned to respect a democratic politics of dissent and abide by its ethics in the true sense.

Moushumi Basu Asish Gupta
(Secretaries, PUDR)

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Press Release from Peoples Union for Democratic Rights

Condemning the use of sedition charges and the crack down on democratic rights in Kashmir

29 October 2010

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights is outraged at the Indian Government contemplating use of S. 124(A) of the IPC (Sedition) against SAS Gilani, Arundhati Roy and other speakers at the Convention in favour of Azaadi. This reported move would have been in contempt of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Kedarnath Singh versus State of Bihar (1962) where the Supreme Court tried to “to limit its [S1249A)] application” by laying emphasis on “incitement to public disorder or the use of violence”. In other words unless there is an explicit incitement to violence a case of sedition cannot be made.

However, PUDR believes that in the 21st Century the very notion of sedition is open to question.

Does support for use of violence by the State fall within this? Does retaining the present order of things, which includes by definition present state of inequalities and disparities, amount to non-violence? Does right to resist oppression or right to self-defense become advocacy for violence? If someone advocates overthrow of this system “peacefully if possible and violently if necessary” does it amount to advocacy for violence? Why is it that structural violence is acknowledged but ending it does not acquire the same poignancy and urgency which political violence attracts? PUDR draws attention to this to highlight that an expression in favour of justice or in opposition to injustices cannot be kept bound by a colonial notion where people were subjects not sovereigns.

PUDR also wishes to remind that the Indian State has condoned and tolerated the vilest form of Hindu majoritarian expression and the abuse hurled by parochial outfits, acts which not only incite violence against civilians but also carry out attacks on civilians in public view, repeatedly and brazenly. Lest we forget a senior RSS leader is described as a “key conspirator” in saffron led mass murder activities in Ajmer Sharief is not called in for interrogation? Therefore, contrast the expression in favour of justice and those in favour of injustice. It is evident that in threatening to prosecute speakers such as Arundhati Roy and others lay a message to the democratic conscience in India to censor their speech and writing. PUDR, therefore, expresses its solidarity with those who uphold the freedom of expression, and denounces attempt by the Indian State to demand loyalty and put people to a ‘test of patriotism’ , something which Union Law Minister Veerapa Moily implicitly proposed.

We urge the Indian Government to realise that that it cannot prosecute wars against its own people and then expect the Indian people to remain mute.

Asish Gupta, Moushumi Basu
(Secretaries PUDR)

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 Arundhati Roy responds to reports of possible arrest on charges of sedition

October 26 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

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http://ibnlive.in.com/news/case-might-be-filed-against-geelani-arundhati/133734-3.html?from=tn

Case might be filed against Geelani, Arundhati Roy

New Delhi: Government has received legal opinion from law officers who say a case under 124-A under Indian Penal Code for sedition is possible against Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and writer Arundhati Roy for their anti-India speeches.

The legal opinion says that any person who by words or expression of any kind brings or attempts to provoke a feeling of hatred or contempt or disaffection towards government by law is culpable under Section 124 A and this is a punishable offence, where a person can be imprisoned for three years to life imprisonment and a fine can also be imposed.

The comments made by these two have been seen as attempts to instigate secession.

Reacting to the Centre’s decision to file a case against him for his speech at a seminar in Delhi, where demand for secession of Kashmir was made by Kashmiri separatists, Geelani said, “I have 90 FIRs registered against me. This will be number 91.”

Geelani said he did not say anything new in Delhi that he had not said in Kashmir before.

At a seminar on Kashmir on Sunday, writer Arundhati Roy said, “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India – it is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this.”

Geelani’s speech in New Delhi had triggered sharp comments from the BJP.

At the convention on ‘Azadi – The Only Way’, Geelani shared the stage with writer Arundhati Roy and pro-Maoist leader Vara Vara Rao among others. The audience heckled Geelani with one of them throwing a shoe.