Hindu-Chauvinist Mob Demands Arundhati Roy Leave India
Posted by D and I Consulting on November 3, 2010
This was first posted on the UK Guardian, October 31st 2010.
The Delhi home of the prize-winning Indian novelist and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy was besieged by Hindu women today demanding that she quit the country because of her outspoken views on Kashmir.
Around 150 members of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s women’s organisation surrounded the house chanting slogans such as: “Take back your statement, else leave India”. The BJP is fiercely opposed to Kashmiri independence.
Addressing a conference in last month (OCT), Roy had declared: “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact.” The author, whose story ‘The God of Small Things’ won the 1997 Booker Prize, has supported Kashmiri secession in the past as well as diverse environmental and social causes.
The Indian government was reported at one stage to be considering launching a prosecution for sedition against Roy and the Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani over their remarks.
In an email circulated by the 48-year-old Roy to supporters yesterday, she said that BJP activists had forced their way into her garden. “A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 in the [Sunday] morning. They broke through the gate and vandalised property. They shouted slogans against me, and threatened to teach me a lesson.”
Their arrival, she said, had been heralded by the appearance of TV outside broadcast (OB) vans anticipating the demonstration. “After they left,” she explained, “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.
“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) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime?”
Roy called on the Indian media to act more responsibly. “The government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me … So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right-wing storm troopers … 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?”