Gagging dissent won’t silence Arundhati Roy

Published: November 8, 2010

Arundhati Roy is an outspoken critic of the occupation in Indian-held Kashmir.

Socrates was morally, intellectually and politically at odds with his fellow Athenians and he paid the price for it. And he paid the price in terms of his life. Poison took away his life, but his death could not kill the ideas and thoughts he espoused.

Arundhati Roy’s saga in India sometimes reminds me of ancient Athens and its ruling class. One example is the way the Indian ruling class, major opposition party and the mainstream media reacted to Roy’s comments questioning India’s right over Kashmir and calling for it’s independence.

If one takes the statement at face value, it appears to be a regular comment that many groups in the Kashmir valley make every day. Such questions are also raised in many seminars in Delhi and other parts of India, but this freedom of speech, which is basic to the functioning of a democracy, is being termed as seditious.

Indian Law Minister M Veerappa Moily termed the statement “most unfortunate” and warned that freedom of speech “cannot violate patriotic sentiments of the people.”

The main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), called it anti-national, branded it seditious and “blamed the government for looking other way.”

How far is invoking patriotism justified for booking a writer or artist on charges of sedition?

The 18th century English writer, Samuel Johnson, called “patriotism…the last refuge of the scoundrel.” In the 21st century, ‘nationalism’ has replaced the word ‘patriotism’. So-called political groups who call themselves nationalists try to stifle any voice of dissent which does not agree with the narrow world view of such parties, who claim to represent a democratic India which gives a constitutional guarantee to freedom of speech.

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.

This was the reaction of Arundhati Roy to those who demand a trial against her. This is a scathing commentary on the state of the nation and the thinking of the ruling class of modern India. Instead of showing maturity as a democracy, we are showing impatience with the finer points of democratic values.

This is not the first time India is failing its democratic values. Recently in Mumbai University, Rohinton Mistry’s novel, “Such A Long Journey,” was banned because it has some derogatory reference to the rabid Hindu party, Shiv Sena. The so called liberal party, the Congress Party, which is running the government in Maharashtra, failed to come in to rescue the liberal voices in the university and outside.

We did not come clean when the Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen, was attacked in India. Our most famous painter, MF Hussein, had to take citizenship in another country in desperation, because we failed to secure his artistic freedom.
What is worrying is the role of media in the whole affair. Look at the way the mainstream media went berserk after Arundhati Roy’s speech in a seminar in Delhi. The media, instead of playing a constructive role and putting things in context, tried to inflame public sentiment. It seems to be abdicating its role as an independent observer and informer and is acting in tandem with the government and establishment-and this in the name of national interest!

The general perception is that the media played a negative role in inflaming passion against Roy. Even Roy was aghast when she saw the presence of a TV van when workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party ransacked her house, and she blamed the media for the shady deed.

Celebrated intellectual Noam Chomsky, in a recent interview with Outlook magazine, has called the Indian media less free than it is generally made out to be. He finds the media in Pakistan more independent and fearless in reporting than in the largest democracy in the world.

At the time when Roy was being attacked in India, Pakistan, which is largely seen as country without any real democracy, was making history by choosing Asma Jehangir, a firebrand civil rights activist and one of the rebels of the Pakistani establishment, as the chief of the Supreme Court Bar Association. India, despite being the world’s largest democracy, looks hypocritical and shallow in its reaction to people like Roy. Is democracy all about election at the right time and political sloganeering? Democracy is much more than that.

As  India is growing as a nation and trying to register its presence on the international stage, it is forgetting some of the basic strengths that brought this country this far and distinguished it as a as a grassroots democracy.

Ashis Nandy, a social scientist, in a recent article in Outlook magazine, explained  this new, growing phenomenon of intolerance towards dissent as a byproduct of economic liberalisation and the emergence of a new middle class. He wrote:

This new middle class wants to give meaning to their hollow life through a violent, nineteenth-century version of European-style ‘nationalism’. They want to prove—to others as well as to themselves—that they have a stake in the system, that they have arrived. They are afraid that the slightest erosion in the legitimacy of their particularly nasty version of nationalism will jeopardise their new-found social status and political clout. They are willing to fight to the last Indian for the glory of Mother India as long as they themselves are not conscripted to do so and they can see, safely and comfortably in their drawing rooms, Indian nationalism unfolding the way a violent Bombay film unfolds on their television screens.

Whatever the reason and explanation for the growing intolerance, some of the questions raised by Arundhati Roy and people like her need an answer, not suppression. Athenians killed Socrates, but his questions kept on haunting the ruling class. By punishing Roy, we can’t close the issues and ideas she has raised. For a more democratic India and for a more humane future for Indians, we need answers and responses to those questions raised in the seminar in New Delhi.

sanjay.kumar

Sanjay Kumar

A New Delhi based broadcast journalist who reports on national and international affairs. He is a contributor to the Asia Pacific based magazine, The Diplomat. He tweets as @destinydefier (twitter.com/destinydefier)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    Great write-up, but I’d have liked to hear more about an Indian perspective on Kashmir and its independence. Anyone? Anoop? Neeraj? What do Indians say on the matter, do you guys really think its the ISI funding Islamists, or that its the CRPF committing mass killings and terrorizing the people? What about the children and teens that have died in Srinagar this year? One case that stood out for me was that of Sameer Rah, a nine-year-old boy brutally beaten to death by the CRPF and the crime covered up by the cops. Or is your government hiding these facts from you?Recommend

  • parvez

    A bold and honest write up.
    Arundhati Roy is an intellectual and a true Indian patriot. She speaks for the underdog and gives her views without fear. I am a big admirer .Recommend

  • http://sadaf-fayyaz.blogspot.com/ SadafFayyaz

    Great piece…….After reading her book “the God of small things”. I became a fan of her……the last para is an eye opener…….Recommend

  • Danny

    Anoop

    What do you say now?

    @ writer…

    Nice write up!!!Recommend

  • Rajat

    Completely agree with you mate, sort of brutal but.. yeah we need such blogs to keep our feet on the ground.
    Though i have to question the timing of this piece by tribune -at a time when Obama snubs Pakistani ruling elite by supporting India for a permanent UNSC seat: Sour grapes at effect?? Recommend

  • Anoop

    Thank you guys.

    Arundati Roy is protected by Constitution, no state machinery can change that. She is free to express her mind. She is saying something which is not “sexy” but she has committed no crime even if the Media and Politicians make us believe so. As long as Freedom Of Expression is enshrined in the constitution she can say whatever she likes.

    Just by saying something controversial doesn’t make it Right, does it.

    Contrary to being an example of India’s intolerance, she is an example of India’s tolerance! Ultimately, the Constitution will protect her.

    She is saying something which are important and is offering a different point of view. She must rightly be allowed to say whatever she likes.

    Indian Union is much stronger for any Individual to dislodge it. Pakistan, a country of hundreds of millions of people, has tried 4 times, unsuccessfully, resulting in its own instability. Arundati Roy is a drop in the ocean that India is.

    If she had said something similar in China, she would be jailed or hanged, in Pakistan a Fatwa would be waiting for her.

    For people who are talking about Kashmir, I can also point to atrocities, but sanctioned in the Constitution of Pakistan.

    http://changinguppakistan.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/picture-2.png

    I hope those who talk about the suffering elsewhere, little do they realize that they have shamelessly signed this bigoted piece of document in order to get a passport. In effect, personally committing an atrocity over fellow Muslims.

    This is a country made for Muslims, ruled by Muslims, majority are Muslims, but not all Muslims have a right to call themselves Muslims.

    I can say this for sure, personally I’ve not discriminated against any based on Religion or Caste or Gender. Can you?Recommend

  • parvez

    Its been nine hours since this has come out and quick-draw-Anoop has not ventured a comment. I think I speak for a lot of us who do read the comments when I say “Anoop we are disappointed”.Recommend

  • Rakesh

    It seems democracy, secularism etc. is only for the Indians. Arundhuti never spoke of the Kashmiri pundits. Arundhati supports the naxals , but she never condemns the looting arson and rapes commited by the naxals. She is a writer…how many social development plans did she give. How many orphan children did she adopt? India gives too much freedom of speech and thatswhy dogs like Arundhati can bark. Can she go to fatherland of the Naxals (china) or the Muslim ummah (pakistan) and talk against them?Recommend

  • Humanity

    Is there an Arundhati in Pakistan to stand up against the enemy within Pakistan?

    Ms. Roy will most likely not be silenced in India. But a Pakistani Arundhati does not stand much chance. Does she?Recommend

  • Murali

    Her freedom of expression is not in question. Her judgement to share a podium with the likes of Geelani and the Maoists is in question. If she had said something that violates the law then she should face the full extent of law. People have been imprisoned for exercising there freedom of expression particularly when commenting on minority religions. This is far more serious. Her is a well respected lady advocating secession and should face the law if that is proved beyond doubt.Recommend

  • http://na prasad

    Ghausia – you have been fed propaganda that talks of the Zalimana harkat, Vaishiyana harkat etc from PTV on the part of the Indian forces.

    While human rights violations have taken place – you as a Pakistani should not want to support the teenager’s angst in the valley. Your side of Kashmir is quiet only because the Indians have not interfered. But it will not be long before the trained jihadists from your side begin to turn on the Pakistani government in their quest for the United Islamic republic of Kashmir (aka Asiya Andrabi’s fond fantasy). While Roy sees herself as some sort of romantic Che in the female garb, she should pay attention more to the teachings of Gandhi where the means are as important as the end.

    She should demand the trial of all those involved in human rights violations and ask for justice, not sit on the same platform as the likes of Geelani who speak of secession and the likes of the Maoists who thrive on anarchy. But then that would make for very boring copy I suppose. Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Anoop you know I’ll be totally honest with you here, I only learned of human rights violations on our side last week when I was composing a presentation on Srinagar for class. I’d had a vague idea that yes, we’re not so ‘doodh k dhulay’ ourselves, but I figured, we have such a tiny part, what could we possibly do? Apparently quite a bit.

    @prasad Sorry to disappoint you dude, but no. All my info is a firsthand account from a dear friend who lived in Srinagar for a little over a year before bieng forced to flee back to America. I have read Kashmiri media as well, but I don’t think everything they say are lies. I don’t exactly support the teenagers and their stone-throwing but a)at least its stones, not guns and b)most of the teenagers that have died, died for no reason. I remember one case back in February when a 13-year-old boy was playing cricket and a teargas shell was hurled at the back of the head, killing him on the spot. Is cricket a crime in India? Lastly, I don’t support what they are doing, but I understand their sentiments. The situation has reached the point that they know that if not today, then tomorrow they’ll die. So if while doing so, they throw rocks at the CRPF, and manage to land a couple of hits, all the better. And for the record, I don’t watch PTV because its state owned. :)Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Ghausia,

    I am not worried about any Human Rights abuse in any other state other than India. But, I’ll point it out only when someone tries to point the Human Rights abuse in India.

    Although as an Citizen I defend my country from outsiders, internally I do very much care about it.

    What is happening in Kashmir is really sad. Ever since 1987 things haven’t cooled down completely. I would love to go back to the pre-1987 period where Kashmir was home to Tourists and Bollywood. I want Twinkle Khanna and Ranbir Kapoor to sing a duet on screen in Kashmir, as did their parents in Bobby.

    But, things have to happen a certain way in India. Its not easy but it works.

    People have every right to protest, even just for the sake of protesting. But, they DO NOT have the right to throw stones and commit violence. Strangely as it sounds, in a country like India only the state is allowed to wield weapons and even in extreme cases use strict measures to control the crowd.

    The Indian State has not learned to control the crowd, which is pathetic since there are so many violent protests happening in and around India for silly reasons all the time. They have to use water cannons, rubber bullets and other modern non-lethal weapons to control crowds. But, even rubber bullets can take out an eye, so nothing is perfect.

    I am not challenging their right to protest but the means they use. The only accepted way of protest in India is through elections. India has given Free and Fair elections to Kashmir. If people who claim are people’s representatives are really so then they should prove it by contesting elections and challenging the state institutionally and constitutionally. As long as they dont contest elections, I dont know the way out of this mess.

    I am confident the majority in Kashmir wont side with the Hurriat. I am saying this because a Senior Hurriat leader had contested elections in North Kashmir and lost 3 years ago.

    I see the people leading the protests and in-turn leading the protesters to death, are similar to Shiv Sena who can get all their supporters to wreck havoc but cannot win an election.

    I’d like to ask you please do not point fingers against India. It has a wonderful constitution and working institutions which will eventually take care of its people,with hiccups ofcourse.

    In the meanwhile Pakistan would do well to ape India in this regard.Recommend

  • Shailendra

    There ought to be some neutrality in your blogs if you wish to be seen as an individual, and not just an Arundhati Roy fan boy. Things such as public sentiment can outweigh any “intellectual” reasoning that may be provided for Ms. Roy’s behaviour. To simply put it, her statements upset me (and hundreds of millions of Indians). I am not talking about patriotism here. She now only looks to sate the thirst of her cult followers who eagerly await her “blasphemous” rants. Her take on the 26/11 issue bears testimony to the fact that she has lost credibility as an activist. It is rather absurd that you expect the people of India to accommodate her verbal diarrhoea in the name of true democracy, or whatever.Recommend

  • parvez

    @Anoop: You were a little late but forthright as always.
    If I remember correctly Arundhati in an interview said that we (India) with about 70,000 police to oversee about 5 million Kashmiris is excessive yet can be rationalised but with about 700,000 troops in addition it can only be called an occupation.
    Would you disagree?Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    .There is no need to gag Ms. Roy. Indifference to her writings is enough. If you don’t like what she says, ignore it. Simple enough.
    @Ghausia
    You have asked for an Indian perspective on Kashmir. Let’s face fact.
    1.The Indian subcontinent was divided into two identities. When this happened did the the “leaders” of the “Freedom movement” then ask the people for referendum/ plebicite or whatever one wishes to call it. The answer is a “BIG NO”. Millions of people died for no reason. (Just because one of the two wanted to be PM). We all accepted that verdict
    Now the question to be asked is “Were they children of lesser GOD” or are Kashmiri Muslims of superior GOD that only they should have the previlige of plebicite.If that right is granted to Kashmiris, the same should be granted to people or their decendants on the division of subcontinent itself.
    Dividing the community on basis of religion is the biggest blunder because religion is a personal affair. As personal as ones tooth brush. Nothing to do with person’s productivity.
    2. Anoop is right. When the political parties in India resort to voilent tactics to push their point of view, they are dealt with heavy hand by state police (Perhaps better way for managing the crowd is in order, which results in minimum/no loss of life.) But that is true for all state police and Kashmir is not an exception.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @parvez:

    700000(I dont know where you got the figure since the Indian army is a million strong and nobody in their right mind would keep 70% of the force in a concentrated area to be annihilated with a single strike with a longer border with China which is also on the boil from time to time.. But, I’ll go with it) in an area which has borders with Pakistan,which has attacked that area 4 times, and China, another giant of a country with which India has fought a war.

    Considering Pakistan army is about the same number, I dont call it occupation, I call it common sense. Besides, Army is not deployed in the towns and cities of Kashmir but deployed on request of the elected representative of Jammu and Kashmir.

    I’ve issues with it too. I dont want Reserve Police force to roam around city. Why would I wish that to happen to the poor Kashmiris.

    But, glad to note that Jammu and Kashmir comprises of 3 parts, 2 of which are integrated with India and sadly the other one has issues.

    If a Muslim Majority Hyderabad can taste success and become 2nd top destination for IT after Bangalore, to the extent of it being referred to as Cyberabad, Muslim majority Kashmir too can progress.

    A Muslim has a better chance of success and growing up to be a better human being in India than Pakistan. How many in India are part of Al-Qaeda, for instance,with a 150+ million strong population? Compare that with Pakistan,which has slightly larger Muslims numbers than India, and you will get the picture..Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Anoop first off, I’m not pointing fingers at India dude, there are human rrights violations going on every day in Pakistan after all. But while your sentiments about only caring what happens in India are patriotic, that isn’t something I agree with, sure, I begin trying to change things at home, but bad things happen out in the world as well, and I’d like to try to make a difference there as well. :)

    Secondly, yes, rock-throwing is hardly the best way to protest, but what about all the people kiled for no reason? Again, not pointing fingers at India here, but what about all the incidents fo the CRPF throwing rocks at houses, harassing locals, blocking passage to hospitals, not allowing fruit-/vegetable vendors out on the streets?

    And thirdly, again, NOT pointing fingers, but while I’ll admit that if India’s is the oldest constitution in the world, then it must be that old for a reason, i.e. effectiveness, it hasn’t managed to take care of Kashmir so far. People were dying in ’47, they’re dying even now. So maybe it would be a good thing if the APHC managed to accomplish their goals?

    @Tony I’ll agree that division on the basis of religion is BS. From the POV of Kashmir, despite what Pakistani history books tell us, I know for a fact that Pakistan instigated aggressive methods to cow the Dogra raja into acceding to Pakistan; yes, that was not the right thing to do BUT the people did want to accede to Pakistan, so the voice of the masses should have been heard. Obviously we’ll never know thanks to the Pashtuns invading and the raja acceding to India in return for help driving them out. Now I’m unclear on your point about the giving the right to plebiscite the descendants of 47 in the whole sub-continent; I think maybe its a bit childish of me to say this, but why bother? No one is complaining, we’re happy being Pakistanis, if we’re not, we move abroad, you’re happy being Indians, that right is more applicable to Kashmir which remains a war-torn region.

    As to your second point, yes, violent protests-BAD. But, again, what about the people that weren’t protesting? The boy that came out of a mosque in Ramzan and was shot? The nine-year-old trampled to death for no reason? The teenager shot through the back of the head? And more importantly, the refusal of the police to investigate these cases? Meaning no disrespect to either of you, but to me it seems like either you guys are not talking openly out of some kind of patriotism, or you really do think that there are no bad things happening in Kashmir. I mean, if that’s the case, how do you guys explain what’s going on in Srinagar all year?

    And lastly, I’m not sure if this comes off as confrontational, accusing, or rude, but if it does, I really don’t mean it that way, so my apologies in advance. :)Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Ghausia:

    You are right. Its a really sad if what you said if true. There is a vicious cycle going on which is hard to stop. But, the state has to reign in the CRPF.

    Also, might I inform you CRPF is directly under the control of the Elected Representative of Kashmir specially for Kashmir and not under Central control. CRPF is not covered under AFSPA, only the Army is.

    The only way the guilty in CRPF can be punished is through an inquiry. That will take time and nobody has the patience to wait, by then another incident happens and the spotlight is thrown on that. Something similar is happening in Pakistan, but with much deadlier effects. Bombs go off at one place or some suicide bomber blows himself up but by the time the State begins to concentrate on that incident another takes place- Kind of a Vicious Cycle.

    If CRPF is harming Kashmiris in anyway then the CM should answer for it, not the rest of India. I am sure they will have their revenge in the next election. But, until then- Patience.

    I would like to highlight there are no extra-constitutional solutions to this issue. The due procedure, how ever slow and inefficient, has to be followed. Think of the other option- Chaos.

    If you look at the progress India has made from year to year you cannot distinguish it. But, seen from decade to decade you will see the progress clearly. Same with Kashmir. In the 1990s Militants used to kill not only the security forces but the Civilians too. Now, there are no militants, atleast there are far less, but the danger from them keeps the Security Forces on edge,hence these incidents. But, it is a major improvement from the 90s. Things will improve but slowly, but surely. Omar Abdullah Government has to answer to the people. Until then, Patience. In the larger scheme of things the system works.Recommend

  • Manas Kumar Sen

    Arundhati Roy has time and again indirectly questioned the existence of India as a pluralistic and democratic society. She has lauded those who have taken up guns against the establishment. When in retaliation the establishment has taken up the gun, she has accused the establishment of silencing it’s own people. Those who call ‘China’s Chairman as our own Chairman’, can they really claim to be true Indians? Their allegiance lie elsewhere. Now reverting to the Kashmir issue, I have a simple question: Are Kashmiris a nation? Do they have the characteristics of a nation? Mere religion does not make a group of people a nation. Besides the concept militates against the very concept of a pluralistic society. Because of the freedom that she enjoys in India, she can make any comments. In any other society, she would have been punished severely long ago.Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Anoop:

    I could have sworn the CRPF was covered by the AFSPA are you sure? What I’ve read listed the AFSPA as a cause for CRPF’s reign of terror, unless maybe I read wrong, I dunno.

    You’re eerily right about the comparison to Pakistan, that is exactly what I’ve observed in this year alone.

    I have noticed that progress is being made, but its far too slow, and too many people are dying in the meantime. Wouldn’t it be better if Pakistan and India relinquished control over their territories? I mean, this perspective doesn’t apply to India but we Pakistanis sure hate it when Americans are sending in drones to our regions, and many mutter about how its a repitition of the East India Trading Company, but it would be nice if they practiced what they preached; maybe if they withdrew their own forces from Kashmir, they wouldn’t look like such hypocrites. Similarly, what is India even getting out of Kashmir? For that matter, what’s Pakistan getting out of it? Is there anything worth salvaging in the poor region anymore, or is it just a game of whose Binky it is between the two countries?Recommend

  • Arzab Magruzi

    It is one thing to be critical about one’s own country and quite another to support its destruction. Roy should be intellectually dismembered in the same way she has pushed for the dismemberment of India: by exposing the hypocrisy of her own arguments. I for one would not mind if that came to pass.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Ghausia:

    “I could have sworn the CRPF was covered by the AFSPA are you sure? What I’ve read listed the AFSPA as a cause for CRPF’s reign of terror, unless maybe I read wrong, I dunno.”

    –> Well, as far as my limited knowledge goes CRPF(Central Reserve POLICE Force) are part of the Civilian machinery. AFSPA is for the Army. That is the reason why CRPF is posted there under the control of the CM of J&K as AFSPA could not be attacked. AFSPA is needed by the Army to do a lot of things the law of the land doesn’t allow them to in pursuing the Militants. But, they are not posted in the cities like in the 90s.

    M.J.Akbar, I am a big fan, writes when talking about Omar Abdullah targetting the Army and AFSPA,”He has, therefore, selected the only escape route he could think of: blame the Indian Army. After 90 deaths in 90 days, the dilution of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has become the fulcrum of his political fortunes. He did not offer to leave because of the complete collapse of governance and total absence of ideas. He threatened to resign if the Union government did not punish the Indian Army.”

    Here is the link. Very good analysis.

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/TheSiegeWithin/entry/omar-must-know-army-is-not-the-enemy

    Also, AFSPA gives complete protection to the people its meant for, but recently Omar Abdullah launched an investigation over the CRPF’s alleged atrocities. I dont think they are covered under this, my limited research confirms this.

    “Wouldn’t it be better if Pakistan and India relinquished control over their territories?”

    –> Its about the precedence. Constitution of India,as liberal as it is, doesn’t give states to declare Independence. In a nation that speaks 18 official languages and has many Religions and other divisions in society this is dangerous.

    Not only the precedence, but think of the Muslims in India other than Kashmiris. The wounds of Partition have not healed completely, surfaces every once in while. Do you really want to put Muslims of India in that place again and open another can of worms? Haven’t they suffered enough(I am talking about Muslims in Pakistan specially).

    Lets say India gives Freedom to Kashmir, no matter what are the state’s intentions. and circumstances, Muslims will be blamed, they will be blamed for not supporting India’s cause, they will be blamed for enforcing another partition on the country.

    The wound of Partition might not have healed completely but the new India had forgotten it.

    India cannot be divided on communal lines again. I know you might say Kashmiri struggle is a secular struggle, but Hurriat who will come to the stage and it will make it a Muslim struggle.

    When Soviet Union lost in Afghanistan, even though it was a Afghani struggle, it was translated to a Muslim struggle and an achievement of the Mujahideens. I dont have to draw parallels in both the scenarios. Its pretty obvious.

    Plus, there is the Consitutional amendments which have to clear the Parliament and the Supreme Court, which will bring up the question of Basic Structure. And, the government which undertakes this can kiss being in power goodbye forever.

    Things are not as simple in India as Pakistan. The Army chief, although hostage to popular opinion, can act in any way he pleases. But, India cannot. not that I am complaining.. Recommend

  • parvez

    @Anoop:
    Anoop the 700,000 is Arundhati’s figure, not mine as mentioned by me earlier. She calls it like she sees it – occupation. You call it common sense, so you disagree with her.

    Muslim Hyderabad is thriving today because of the ruler Nizam’s had invested in education, civic services etc. The issue here is Kashmir (Arundhatis position on it) and as you have raised Hyderabad lets go back to 1947 when almost all the princely states ceded to India but not Hyderabad. It was over a year later that the Indian Union forced Hyderabad to join through armed force (called police action) named Operation Polo and the razakar movement of the Muslims on the Nizams side (who wanted an Independent Hyderabad) was squashed. The “strong arm” of the state was prevalent then as it is now in Kashmir who have a similar demand.
    Lastly, your view that a Muslim has a better chance of growth in India is myopic and most likely based on today’s materialistic ideals. This view was rejected in 1947 and the position still hold good today.
    Yes Pakistan has multiple problems and we have to deal with them.Recommend

  • Rajat

    Something is wrong with this page Express Tribune. Even after one day of this blog, I am not able to view the comments and the page is displaying the post as published 9 mins ago. Please look into it maybe a JavaScript error which loops infinitely. Recommend

  • Jagdesh

    I never read about Arundhati Roy commenting about terrorist attacks in India nor about thousands of innocent people dying duringthese attacks. what about cops who were killed during mumbai attack. Is it not violating human rights or just because they work for government, Human rights do not apply to them. What about Thousands of Kashmiri Hindus who were persecuted by Islamic militants are they not Humans. Arundhati Roy is nothing but a show oss seeking sensationalism. There is an adage, when elephant walks on main street dogs bark!!Recommend

  • Hassan

    As always we have chosen to discredit Arundhati Roy rather than debate her concerns, this is a common problem we dont want to face up to our truth we would rather just hound the messnenger til he/she runs away or stops pointing out the truth.

    You have your so called nationalists and we have our mullahs both afflicted with dementia as far as i am concerned, i say let the kashmiris decide on both side pull back the armies have a free and fair elections resolve this issue how many generations have to see this conflict simmer and how many billins must we spend on the armed forces when both of us cant afford it!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Anoop

    “Lastly, your view that a Muslim has a better chance of growth in India is myopic and most likely based on today’s materialistic ideals. This view was rejected in 1947 and the position still hold good today.”

    –> Who better than an Indian Muslim talk about Islam and Muslims of India.

    M.J.Akbar says,”India is perhaps the only country in the whole world were Muslims despite being in minority, can profoundly claim that they have reaped the fruits of Democracy uninterruptedly for the last 60 years. ”

    http://www.bismillahnews.in/?page_id=18

    That is the reality. If you want to talk about the logic of the two-nation theory, then I am game.

    The theory basically talks about 2 sets of human beings different as they follow different Religions. But, we have seen there are as much divisions within Muslim societies as there are different Religions. Basically, you are creating a country based on a divisive ideology.

    That divisive ideology is what tempted the Bengalis to say, “Wait a minute, we are different from Pakistanis”. And, I can cite several other instances, most of which, I am sure, you will realize how this ideology has adversely affected Pakistan.

    Sikhs are a minority too in India, and they are one of,if not THE most, successful communities. A Sikh is a PM now, for godsakes and Indian people have elected him 2 times in a row. Isn’t this unheard of anywhere in the world that the Head of State does not belong to the majority community(80% of the population).

    I am not merely talking about economic growth of Muslims. But, look at their standing in politics and other reputed professions. They have been Presidents, Scientists, Chief Justice, etc.

    Also, as I pointed out earlier, institutionally no Muslim is discriminated. Ahmadis practice their religion here in peace, so do Shias(By the way, Shias of Kashmir hate the idea of joining Pakistan). They have reservations in jobs, education and have their own Muslim Personal Law. In what non-Muslim Majority country will they get all this?

    In Pakistan 3000 Muslims died in 2009 alone, killed by.. other Muslims for ideological reasons. If you still believe that Pakistan offers a lot more than India for Muslims, I call you bigoted.

    Also, Bollywood and Cricket are the 2 most favorite pastimes in India, as you well know. In both the cases Muslims are over-represented when you count only 15% of India is Muslim.

    Who are the top 3 stars in Bollywood right now? The 3 Muslim Khans. Shows you that a Muslim can grow in public oriented industry. This just shows how pluralistic India is and how secular it is.

    Pakistan was a bad idea but an inevitable one. I for one, am glad that Pakistan didnt drag India down with it. Muslims of India of 1947 had to get this experiment out of their system. After 1971, they know which country they belong to.Recommend

  • SKChadha

    @ Parvez –

    The division of British India territory was well discussed by British with Indian National Congress (INC) and Muslim League (ML). The borders were marked after due deliberations as territory of India and Pakistan (on both eastern and western side).

    During partition there were not one or two but in all 562 princely states (suzerainties) scattered in this sub-continent which were not part of British India and were controlled by royals. The British Crown abandoned them and given them a choice to accede to either India or Pakistan or remain outside them.

    It is a fact that these states were given choice but due to “geographic compulsions” of such States, Mountbatten took the position that only states that shared a delineated common border with area designed as Pakistan should only accede to Pakistan otherwise it would lead in chaos and both Pakistan and India and the newly formed nations would look like polka dots. In this creation of area Congress and Muslim League were also of the similar view and were part of division. The British Crown territories to be acceded to Pakistan were also decided with discussions and approval of Muslim League.

    The division of India-Pakistan was in fact division of warring political parties i.e. INC & ML for their own political future. India & Pakistan as nation came into existence only after that division.

    My dear brothers, ‘Aap aur Hum to Mohra Hain, INC & ML Ke Khel Ka’. The sentiments of masses were exploited at that time and are even now being exploited on different issues including Hyderabad.

    J&K also being suzerainty was given liberty to accede either to India or Pakistan or remain Independent. J&K was undecided on the issue but the circumstances, created by Pakistan and the tribal, placed it in the lap of India. There is no document which suggests its accession or demarcation in Pakistan. Nobody at that time predicted huge and uncontrollable mass migration. The main reason of present hostility is migration, looting and personal scars inflicted by both communities on each other. Mountbatten did not have power to impose his abovementioned point of view on the states. Political parties looking into the bloodshed, as it usually happens, distanced themselves from this tacit understanding and placed entire blame on Mountbatten.Recommend

  • Sana Naseer Shaikh

    A very thought provoking article, it fails to identify the real reasons for the failure of democracy in Pakistan & India.There are so many basic reasons of it’s failure like lack of education of people and politicians in democratic fundamentals, illiteracy of the masses, division along provincial, linguistic and ethnic barriers, leadership having become a family affair, etc. If we are talking on Kashmir issue, it’s very bewildering situation o solve it….all the discussions on this issue is ends on silence…no doubt silence has its own expressive & shouting language-but there is essential to focus on this issue & solve it in a better way without any disputes & confusions. There is not a way to blaming each other find the proper solutions of this matter because Muslims in Kashmir suffers alot & give great sacrifices for their freedom. Other than religion, the people of both India and Pakistan come from the same stock, were part of the same nation, share the same history, had the same opportunities in pre-partition days. Recommend

  • Annie

    @Sana Naseer Shaikh:
    i really agree with you….Its a really sad if what you said if true.Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    @Ghausia
    1. I do not not think just because Kashmir is in the news, they get the right to plebicite. Can any govt. of Pakistan grant this right to Sindhis/Baluchis/ Kashmiris. As I understand to stand for an election in “Azad Kashmir”, one has to sign an undertaking that they will acede to Pakistan. Besides that as you say if people have problem with the state, they migrate. The same applies to Kashmiris too. If they do not like the state of affairs in India they can buy a one way ticket. No one is stopping them.
    2. The problem with Kashmir and Pakistan’s claim is that it is based on religion. If any state decides to agree to such a demand, what about the people who follow the same religion and are living in other states? How would people of majority religion react to such a scenario. The problem with religion is that its a very emotive issue and brings the worst out of people. (the partition has shown us that, not just in subcontinent, but also lately in erstwhile Yugoslavia) Are the govts concerned ready to take this responsiility of the aftermath? Are the people of subcontinent prepared for such Balkanisation of the states? Only a very naive person would believe that it will be limited only to India. It won’t be. Pakistan, Nepal would also be affected.
    3. Would like to know how the Pakistan’s forces deal with people who throw stones at them and blow up govt buildings? Here the Shiv Sainiks, the CPM cadres, The Congress workers or any other party workers who agitate are dealt the same way as people who throw stones in Srinagar. There is an evenhandedness there, albiet its a wrong way, but police here knows only this.Recommend

  • Neeraj, India

    @Ghousia, Well, I am a bit late in joining this debate. It is sheer co-incident that I just posted my comment on Arundhati Roy and Kashmir in response to an another article titled “New Delhi’s lies on Kashmir dispute by Mr.Zahid G Mohammad in the opinion section and it is still “awaiting moderation”. If it escapes the moderators scissors(which is being used generously of late) you may know about my opinion on the subject. Please don’t take it as my arrogance. I could have copied and pasted it here but that would be an improper thing to do.Recommend

  • Neeraj, India

    @parvaiz, You and Arundhati are right, there are seven hundred thousand paramilitary forces stationed in Kashmir. But, remember I said paramilitary forces not India’ armed forces. Anoop too is right India’s armed forces number a little over a million. But, the total number of Indian armed men and women do number around 5 million, that includes BSF, CRPF, RAF, IDF, RPF, Reserve Police forces of various states such as Grey Hounds etc. But you are wrong when you say that muslims of Hyderabad are thriving because of Nizam’ investment in education and Anoop is also wrong in saying that this is a mislim majority city. Only 30 percent of Hyderabadis are muslims who mostly live in the old city.
    Nizams regime was one of the most obscurantist in nature and it’s ruler’s follies brought great misery upon muslims of the state during operation polo. I can say this because I was born and brought up in Hyderabad, though my grand parents did migrate from Peshawer to India during partition. I now live in Mumbai, but Hyderabad lives in my heart, a city of unbelievable beauty. I can’t say anything more because of lack of space and time.
    @Sana Naseer Shaik, Dear lady, democracy is not a failure in India. India is a success story because of democracy. As Obama said India is a success not in spite of democracy, but because of democracy. Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Neeraj, India:

    Ok, you clearly know more about the ethnicity of Hyderabad more than I, but I’d like to point out that the number of Muslims in Hyderabad has not fallen but the number of Hindus has risen, lest anyone mistakes it as genocide and starts throwing stones at us.

    My point is Muslims of Hyderabad, have benefited greatly.

    Also, I would like to point out to others that India can easily solve its Kashmir problem by allowing migration from rest of India,especially Muslims, into Kashmir, like the Chinese have made Uighurs minorities in their own cities. But, India being India abides by article 370 which prohibits non-Kashmiris from settling in Kashmir. Recommend

  • parvez

    @Neeraj, India: Appreciate your feedback. Its nice to read a level headed comment.
    I too have a dear friend whose family served in the Nizams army in very high positions and it was his first hand accounts of the excellent governance and systems prevalent in Hyderabad that prompted me to say what I did. You are also correct on the Operation Polo bit it was a fiasco. This all has nothing to do with Arundhati and the article but as Anoop brought the Hyderabad Muslim angle in I tried to show the similarity with the circumstances prevailing in 1947 in Hyderabad to that in Kashmir today in a very broad context. The article is on Arundhati and the suppression she is encountering and this has been side tracked.Recommend

  • parvez

    @SKChadha: There are many ,many views and versions of what happened in ’47 and the way partition came about. The whole affair is way more complex than your summary on it, which incidently considering the space constraint was pretty good. Recommend

  • parvez

    @Anoop: A lot of what you have being going on about of minorities doing well in India and the democratic system working well etc, etc is true and appreciable. Your view that India offers more to the Muslim than Pakistan does is exactly that, its your view and if the other does not subscribe to it he becoms a bigot. A bigot is an intollerant person, so who’s the bigot.
    Do you enjoy this type of discourse. I for one don’t.
    By the way you do have a brilliant film industry. Cheers. Recommend

  • Neeraj, India

    @Anoop, Yes, I know more about Hyderabad than you. You said ” but I’d like to point out that the number of Muslims in Hyderabad has not fallen but the number of Hindus has risen, lest anyone mistakes it as genocide and starts throwing stones at us”. You are absolutely right, number of muslims did’t decline because of any genocide in the city and rise of Hindu population in the capital city was a natural phenomenon, given the state’s Hindu majority of about 91 percent. Did I say that muslim population declined because of any genocide? No, not at all. All I said that you are wrong in depicting Hyderabad as muslim majority city.
    Coming to your other point, you said, Hyderabadi mislims benefited greatly, no sir, they didn’t, not because of any discrimination on the part of state of India as such, but , solely because of lethargic and the foolish religious “mendak in the well” mentality of the local muslims.
    When subcontinent was partitioned Hyderabadi muslims were the only community to possess lot of wealth, educated class and resources to move ahead and make a respectable place for themselves in the Indian society, but they miserably failed. After the “Police Action” Govt.of India did confiscate the belongings of feudal lords of Nizam state, but it left the individual properties untouched. The muslim elite of the time could have done so many things to uplift their community from its’ depressing and pitiable conditions, but they did nothing. They squandered away their wealth in fulfilling their carnal desires, of which you might have already read the juicy stories.
    As for the Kashmir, why are you advocating Indian muslim migration to Kashmir, that is a blatant communal approach, I believe that the article 370 should be scrapped and every citizen of India, irrespective of his/her religion and ethnicity, must be free to settle in Kashmir. Recommend

  • R. Qureishi

    Its heartening to see comparions of our Indian neighbours (We have Indian Arundhatti… where is your Arundhatti???).

    I am glad to see that after 6 decades Indians still bracket India with Pakistan. It is flattering to see that the biggest democracy in the world feels it necessary to compare herself with a neighbouring country which is smaller in size and hasn’t seen much democray/secularism. Recommend

  • SKChadha

    @ Sana

    “There is not a way to blaming each other find the proper solutions of this matter because Muslims in Kashmir suffers a lot & give great sacrifices for their freedom.”

    Well said by you on illiteracy and feudalism but linguistic, religious and ethnic barriers in India are blurring with each passing day. As to your above quotation for Muslims in Kashmir, the basic difference lies in ideology of our two nations.

    India is secular and Pakistan is a Muslim country. If you observe minutely, you will find that our good wishes for Pakistan, whatever small they are, are directed towards its entire citizenry. The voices emanating from Pakistan are directed either towards India’s Muslim population or protection of Islam. Hence, such voices from Pakistan are attributed as false motive of our neighboring nation for fueling the fire. Religion or faith here is personal to anyone? We cajole, entice, criticize and persuade each other on religious beliefs and enjoy or feel annoyed but do not have feeling of hatred for each other. There is no harm in accepting the fact that few in India have disliking for Muslims and the main reasons for that are the scars of partition and community based support of Pakistan to Muslims. The graph of such persons is dwindling with passage of time. The disliking expressed against Islam or Muslims in India is only due to the scars of Partition, religious riots and the terror inflicted from across the border in the name of religion. Barring few exceptions, the voices emanating even from our polity, especially Muslims, are also directed mainly for benefit of their own community. This annoys normal citizenry and falsely attributed such voices towards their elegance to our neighboring nation.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @parvez:

    When I said what I said, I meant your opinion is strongly partial against India and its structural basis. I never meant you are intolerant. Far from it. I should have chosen my words carefully.

    You said,”Your view that India offers more to the Muslim than Pakistan does is exactly that, its your view”

    –> You said Pakistan offers more to India in every possible way. I just wanted to prove it is untrue. You suggested India only offers wealth to its Muslims, I showed you what other Freedom that India gives them. It gives ALL Muslims(you know what I mean by this) to practice their Religion in a peaceful way, it gives them Identity(A lot of Pakistanis suffer from Identity Crisis), It gives them Reservations in jobs and Education in some of India’s elite Institutions(You must know the brilliance of IITs and IIMs), a Muslim born in India is more likely to be modern, progressive and tolerant than in Pakistan.

    Most important of all they get to enjoy the fruits of Democracy. Do you contest any what I said above? If you do, I would appreciate you sharing it with me.

    My stand that India offers more to Muslims and is good for them than Pakistan holds.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Neeraj, India:

    There is not much I can disagree with what you said.

    But, you misunderstood me about the Genocide remark. I wanted others who have no idea about Hyderabad to not jump to conclusions and declare a genocide or anything like that happened. That was not directed at you, Neeraj.

    “As for the Kashmir, why are you advocating Indian muslim migration to Kashmir, that is a blatant communal approach, I believe that the article 370 should be scrapped and every citizen of India, irrespective of his/her religion and ethnicity, must be free to settle in Kashmir.”

    Yes, I just put that option on the Table, it is not impractical. You are very right.

    But, I dont agree completely that Article 370 should be scrapped because we dont know what can of worms that will open in Kashmir.

    That is an option but it should be debated and the consequences contemplated. If this happens, we’ll be accused of forcefully changing the demographics of the State like China did with Uighurs. I think India is hesitant because of this reason.

    But, that will be the last resort. But, things haven’t gone that far, things can only improve from here. I am confident it will.Recommend

  • SKChadha

    @Anoop:

    What …! Scraping Article 370 ..?? The pseudo-secularist of India will start jumping on you sir, calling you a BJP stooge …!!

    Another idea floating … As Pakistan has bifurcated PHK into Kashmir & G-B, why not to trifurcate J&K in Jammu, Ladhak and Valley? This will limit operational area of mischief monger elitists … ? Recommend

  • Sana Naseer Shaikh

    @SKChadha:
    I agree with your opinion, but we can’t neglect the reality…I’m not blaming on one nation because the kashmir dispute must be solved out….The two countries have squabbled over which subjects should be covered in the talks — India wants to focus on terrorism while Pakistan eyes the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir that has been the cause of two of their three wars. Pakistan & India must have cordial relationship with each other… we should keep in touch in all matters whether it’s trade, culture, traditions, social norms etc…Expectations from the talks were modest, and a simple pledge to continue the dialogue may be the best officials can hope for.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @SKChadha:

    “why not to trifurcate J&K in Jammu, Ladhak and Valley? This will limit operational area of mischief monger elitists … ?”

    –> No, that would increase the tension in the valley dont you think? Ladakh and Jammu would be happier and would benefit but I doubt if Kashmir will gain anything by it. Recommend

  • Sana Naseer Shaikh

    Neeraj, India

    In a true democracy every legal citizen would have an equal say in every decision made. Some drawbacks to a complete democracy would include; decisions take alot of time and in times of results we need quick action.A key ingredient to successful democracy is fair, equal representation for all its people in all four pillars of democratic government.As Obama said India is a success not in spite of democracy, but because of democracy.This statement is way of being pro-business reduces the nation’s prosperity by relieving businesses of the need to satisfy consumers. His show of solidarity to India to fight terror together is also sustainable.Obama looks for economics opportunities in India.Recommend

  • Sana Naseer Shaikh

    @Neeraj, India:

    In a true democracy every legal citizen would have an equal say in every decision made. Some drawbacks to a complete democracy would include; decisions take alot of time and in times of results we need quick action.A key ingredient to successful democracy is fair, equal representation for all its people in all four pillars of democratic government.As Obama said India is a success not in spite of democracy, but because of democracy.This statement is way of being pro-business reduces the nation’s prosperity by relieving businesses of the need to satisfy consumers. His show of solidarity to India to fight terror together is also sustainable.Obama looks for economics opportunities in India.Recommend

  • Neeraj, India

    @Sana Naseer Shaik, Nothing is perfect in life. So is democracy. It is not a perfect governing system, but can you suggest me a better alternative to it? The only alternative that comes to my mind is a utopian dream.
    As you suggested, flaws of democracy include delays in decision making, injustice to a section of society and many more. But that is far better than a cruel dictator like Zia quickly hanging a mass leader like Mr.Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and in his personal wisdom led your country to what it is today. Even the worlds most powerful democracy the US took centuries to reform itself and it took more than two centuries for a black man to become its’ president. No matter how flawed a democracy is, it the best system available for us to evolve into good human beings.
    As for Obama trying to find business opportunities in India, I don’t find anything wrong with it, after all we Indians also desperately need their advanced technologies.
    It is a mutual give and take and that is called business!Recommend

  • SKChadha

    @ Anoop:

    With due respect to all elected representatives of J&K assembly, this move will definitely reduce the space for monkey jumps of so called hurriat pasand who do not represent Kashmiri in main stream polity. Let them do Hur Hur in limited space and scream Wadi Wadi in place of JK JK.

    @ Sana:

    Talk, talk and talk, since last 63 years we are in the process of only ‘Abba’ and ‘Kutti’, how all this help a normal Kashmiri? What meaningful dialogue can be held by putting terror gun on the head of opponent? Can’t we have confidence building measures first? Can’t we have soft borders, meeting points and trade links etc. across LOC? At least, people can meet, though temporarily, isn’t it better than present situation? It is a joke that we put Kashmir solution before any other confidence building measure. How you can proceed by putting cart before the horse.

    The political future of many leaders will be doomed on both sides of the LOC if Kashmiri have meeting points, trade and cultural exchanges across LOC. This is all a political game. One more thing, in partition there was division of not only of Kashmir but of Punjab, Sind, Bengal, Gujarat (Kachh) etc. What is so special about Kashmir? Did a Hindu from Peshawar or a Muslim from UP wanted to leave his motherland or doesn’t have pains of Partition? Please realize Partition was political game of INC and ML which divided us 63 years back. Yeh Batware Ki Lakeer Ishwar Ya Khuda Ne Nahin Khinchi Hai, Yeh Hamne He Khinchi Hai. Iska Khamiyaja Bhee Hamain Hee Bhugatna Padega.

    The democracy, autocracy, dictatorship etc. are never true or false, I mean 0% or 100%. We have to measure the political situation of any society on string of the scale as to how beneficial it is for the masses. Even in that the perceptions and opinions differ in democratic set up and we are over one billion …!!! Recommend

  • parvez

    @Anoop:
    You claim I said “Pakistan offers more to India in every possible way” Where in my write ups have I said this ? Are you confusing my views with someone else ? I dont really understand that sentence.
    Your position on Muslims getting a “good deal” in India is absolutely true to a great extent.
    Now let me try and make my point by telling a small story for simplicity :
    My friend of the Memon community was a qualified engineer but ran his fathers small service sector business employing some 5 people and he made a middle class living for himself.
    When asked why don’t you work for a multi-national and earn big bucks, he said “Parvez, I work for myself and I earn what I need and I am happy. I would never get that feeling working for someone else. Its hard to understand but thats how I feel”.
    So the Muslim in Pakistan has that feeling despite all Pakistan’s faults.

    Anoop keep in mind this is just a blog. I have my thoughts and you have yours. If we are are unable to even share this, it reflects poorly on both of us.Recommend

  • http://du.ac.in yaruingam

    The article is thought provoking and truthful.
    We, the minorities must congratulate Arundadhi Roy for her courage to speak out the truth. I did not find any exageration in what she has said; she pointed out exactly what is happening out there in J7 K and in this country. If the so called Patriots of this nation do not want her to speak in the way, they shouldn’t allow to happen what is happening there.
    This is not enough Ms. Roy must visit North East and take another courage to speak the truth. The poor and downtrodden who are exploited by the so called ‘patriots’ behind you. Recommend

  • Ashutosh

    Winston Churchill once said, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

    Nice discussion on democracy. It is important to understand how it functions. There is a constitution and the government and citizen follow the constitution as the most sacred document and sever by it. It is within is constitution citizens have fundamental rights.

    Also, it is a wrong perception that democracy means every citizen has equal say in the day to day affair of the funning of the government. Citizen can elect a representative in the election and once elected, the citizens have little or no control over their representatives. But then these Representatives have to face election again after 5 years. So to change the government, we do not need a coup or a revolution. If, citizens are not happy with their Representative, then they should not vote him/ her. This is what we call a say in governance.

    Here, I will like to explain a bit how minorities are protected. Lets take a burka ban or man on turban by the government. The the affected minority or any one else, can appeal in the supreme court as this infringe the fundamental rights of the citizen. Once Supreme Court is satisfied by the logic, it may declare that the ban is contradicting the constitution hence is scraped. That is why despite BJP rule for 6 years in India could not bring any single anti-minority legislation.

    I am sure it sounds clumsy but probably explains it a bit.Recommend

  • SKChadha

    @ Ashutosh & others:

    In democracy every citizen is granted some fundamental rights. As the quantum of such fundamental rights goes on increasing in writing and practice the democratic value of the nation increases. In best of the democracies also, we sacrifice some of our fundamental rights for a good social order. These sacrifices of rights are at all levels i.e. from individual to family, family to neighborhood, neighborhood to community and community to states and so on. For example – Veto power reduces democratic value of UN and Parents dictate reduces democratic value in family. It is always debatable that whether such dictates are good or bad for functioning of any unit? It is generally believed that quantum of freedom, liberty or fundamental rights make individuals happier (again opinions differ ..?). A slave may be happy in his enslavement, if he gets better treatment from his master as compared to other slaves (Like Kunwey Ka Maindhak).

    These democratic values are visible in all shades of life including religion. As a follower of a particular religion, or social teachings (e.g. road sense), are we all not sacrificing some of our rights? Everybody should at least list the practices prohibited in his own religion and understand the rights one lose by adopting it or otherwise forcefully imposed upon him by his society. Whether we are independent in our own family? A soul searching is required? The beauty and pitfalls of democratic values will automatically start coming in one’s mind. To my understanding, probably this is the reason for which we talk of Ijma (consensus) and Ittehad (unity) in Islam. Recommend

  • SKChadha

    The protections available to Arundhati Roy as to freedom of speech in India, is as under:

    Article 19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.—(1) All citizens shall have the right—
    (a) to freedom of speech and expression;
    (b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
    (c) to form associations or unions;
    (d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
    (e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
    (f) Omitted w.e.f. 20.06.1979 by 44th Amendment (It was relating to right to property) * *
    (g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.
    (2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
    …………….
    ” (relevent Part only)

    JK is not the only State in India which has special transitional provisions of protection. There are nine States which have such special provisions including Andhra Pradesh (i.e. earstwhile Hyderabad). If interested you may refer them at: http://indiacode.nic.in/coiweb/coifiles/p21.htmRecommend

  • harkol

    This article got it wrong. Arundathi roy doesn’t get any special status because she is a writer! She gets the same rights and protection that any other citizen of India is entitled to – constitutionally protected free speech – as long as it doesn’t support violence or call for an unlawful activity.

    Arundathi roy voiced an opinion, and no where she called for violence or a unlawful activity. She may have pointed out the reasons for unlawful demands or activity, but she is well within her rights.

    While many diasgree with her views, she is safe.

    But, lets consider the outrage against the opoosition to Arundathi Roy. All these folks are hypocritical! They support the right of Arundathi Roy to openly oppose Indian government, but condemn folks who Oppose Arundathi Roy!!

    How absurd is that??!! Why condemning Ms. Roy or even saying she may have said something seditious is against free-speech?

    If someone physically attacked her, then it is punishable. But, calling for a legal action against her, which will be judged by an impartial and independent judiciary is hardly intolerance, uncivil behavior.

    It is just another point of view – Deal with it!!Recommend

  • Mudassar

    @writer
    excellent reality based analysis of the circumstances!Recommend