Arundhati Roy smiles at the anguish of Kashmiri Hindus

published on October 22, 2010
Dr.Vijaya Rajiva

On October 21, 2010 a group of activists sponsored a seminar titled ‘ Convention on Kashmir-Azadi: The only way’. The chief speaker was the separatist Syed Shah Gilani. Others included Naxalites, Maoists, Khalistanis etc. Sitting on the dais with them was writer and activist Arundhati Roy. The pictures showed her smiling !

The BJP ‘s Arun Jaitley articulated the sentiment that many in the nation felt at this unusual event of a group of separatists meeting in New Delhi under the very nose of the central government. Journalists such as Vinodh Mehta argued that this was Indian democracy in full flight : freedom of speech. Others were more critical and simply used the word ‘ sedition’ in their reporting. Arun Jaitley persuasively argued that while there is a constitutional right to freedom of speech that freedom is circumscribed by the state’s obligation to defend its sovereignty and integrity. Hence the event should be considered under penal law.

Some Kashmiri Hindus protested at the meeting and were led away by the police and subsequently released. Arundhati was smiling. The plight of the Kashmiri Hindus is known to her. Some 400,000 of them were driven out of the Kashmir valley by the separatists led by Gilani. Many live in refugee camps in and around Delhi. Their living conditions are deplorable. Some managed to migrate to the West.

Prior to their being driven out of the Kashmir valley, many in the community were brutally tortured and killed. Liberal historian Ramachandra Guha has described this succinctly in his book India After Gandhi (2007):

“ These women and men were not killed in the crossfire, accidentally, but were systematically and brutally targeted. Many of the women were gang raped before they were killed.One woman was bisected by a mill saw. The bodies of the men bore marks of torture.Death by strangulation,    hanging, amputations, the gouging out of eyes, were not uncommon.Often their bodies were dumped with notes forbidding anyone-on pain of death – to touch them.”
(India After Gandhi, p.642)

While the political question of sedition can and must be debated as Arun Jaitley pointed out in his press conference, it is also necessary for Bharat to ask why Arundhati was photographed wearing a ghoulish smile. She has no feeling or sympathy for the plight of the Kashmiri Hindus. For someone who has touted her commitment to peace and non violence she has ignored the ruthless killing of Indian policemen (including their beheading ) by her Maoist comrades. While loudly proclaiming the excesses of the CRPF in Kashmir she quietly ignores the torture and murder of Kashmiri Hindus and the expulsion of the survivors from the valley.

Could this be a case of psychosis ? Is the smile that of a person on the borderline ? And is her consistent attack on Hindu India,not just the Indian state, an expression of this disease ?

In a previous article the present writer has outlined the origins and nature of her attack on what she calls the Hindu corporate state (‘Arundhati Roy buries her ancestral faith’ in Haindava Keralam, 25/09/2010). She speaks consistently of Hindu totalitarianism etc. At first glance it would seem that her attack is motivated by the fact that she is not a Hindu. She belongs to the Christian community of Kerala. But that alone cannot be the reason. There are many from the Christian faith who have stayed loyal both to the Indian state and the country in which they were born and which nurtured them. In that article the present writer had stated:

“ Many have attributed her recent writings to the fact that her star has waned, certainly in India, but internationally also, where people are preoccupied with terrorism the daily pressures of economic realities and so on. She now has a  limited audience composed mainly of the Zed crowd and on occasions a trip to some Islamic country or other, such as Turkey where her half baked views on the Indian subcontinent would be welcome. Witness for instance her coy refusal to be on a committee which would mediate between the Maoists and the government on the grounds that she does not have the expertise ! Any  serious attempt at resolution would pre empt her meanderings, and she also knows the reception she would receive from her Maoist ‘friends’ should she fail in the enterprise. She has also therefore been described as a dilettante”

(‘Arundhati Roy buries her ancestral faith’ ).

The present writer believes that there is more to all this than meets the eye.It is not simply that she wishes to see the Indian state disintegrate or that she is a publicity seeking hound. Her anger towards Hinduism is what drives her. The activist causes are merely a smokescreen and certainly her espousal of nonviolence and peace now stands exposed as a fraud.

Some in India have called for her arrest for sedition. The government of India can decide on that issue. But it might be more pertinent to treat her case as that of mild psychosis and request that she be given an opportunity to disclose and talk about her genuine problems with Hindu India, rather than the Indian State per se. Afterall, she did refer to ‘our great country’ in an interview with Karan Thapar of CNNIBN.

She has a problem. Understanding it will also help in stopping her from the rabble rousing that she engages in from time to time. As an example of her bizarre swings: in the October 21 conference the other day, she is reported  to have said that she dissociates herself from the Indian state !

Needless to say, her cohorts like the venomous Syed Shah Gilani should be treated as seditionists with one aim : an attack on the Indian state.

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)

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