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Arundhati Roy’s ‘apology’ comes with terms and conditions and a shameless reiteration of her lies, bias and ignorance

Arundhati Roy's "apology" was a mockery of the Indian State and Indians. She reiterated her ignorance and prejudices, she reinforced her propaganda against India, Hindus, the Indian Army and re-proclaimed her love for Naxals, Pakistan and the section of Muslims that wield guns and bombs.

Arundhati Roy, the undisputed queen of hate, has been the subject of conversation on social media for all the wrong reasons, as usual. After the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories – J&K and Ladakh, the self-proclaimed ‘liberals’ had a meltdown. Amidst the cacophony of lies and propaganda, a 2011 video of Arundhati Roy went viral, where she could, as usual, be seen deriding India. In the video, she said the Indian State has been at war with its own people and Pakistan has never deployed the military against its own people as India has. She has now issued an ‘apology’ after much outrage.

Her video was shared widely by Pakistanis.

While Pakistan rejoiced, Indians condemned. And condemned in droves. Apart from Indians, Balochistan Liberation Front leader Dr Allah Nazar issued a strong statement condemning Arundhati Roy. He said that Arundhati had displayed her ignorance. He went on to list Pakistan’s atrocities in Balochistan and said that her statements had deeply hurt the sentiments of the oppressed Baloch people. The Dhaka Tribune too published an opinion piece blasting to smithereens her defence of Pakistan.

After the widespread condemnation, Arundhati Roy issued an “apology”. Following is her statement in full as reported by various media outlets. Some interesting portions are being highlighted in red.

As tensions rise to dangerous levels between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, a nine-year-old video clip has surfaced on the social media, in which while speaking of the endless wars the Indian government has waged against its own people, I seem to be saying that Pakistan has never deployed its army against its “own” people the way India has. We all, at some point in our lives, might inadvertently say something thoughtless or stupid. This tiny clip of the video in no way represents what I believe, or indeed what I have written over the years. I am a writer, and what I commit to words is far more important than what I might say extempore in the course of a freewheeling talk. Still, It is a matter of enormous consequence and I apologize for any momentary confusion the clip may have caused.

My views on what the Government of Pakistan is doing in Balochistan and the genocide that the Pakistan Army committed in Bangladesh have never been ambiguous and have always been a part of my writing. Here, in order to keep it short, are two small examples.

In my novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, published in 2017, one of the main characters, an Indian Intelligence officer, Biplab Dasgupta aka Garson Hobart, who has served in Kashmir, says:

“It’s true we did—we do— some terrible things in Kashmir, but… I mean what the Pakistan Army did in East Pakistan—now that was a clear case of genocide. Open and shut. When the Indian Army liberated Bangladesh, the good old Kashmiris called it—still call it—the ‘Fall of Dhaka.’ They aren’t very good at other peoples’ pain. But then, who is? The Baloch, who are being buggered by Pakistan, don’t care about Kashmiris. The Bangladeshis who we liberated are hunting down Hindus. The good old communists call Stalin’s Gulag a ‘necessary part of revolution’. The Americans are currently lecturing the Vietnamese about human rights. What we have on our hands is a species problem. None of us is exempt.”

In an essay called Walking with the Comrades published in 2010 and republished in June 2019, I wrote:

When Charu Mazumdar famously said, “China’s Chairman is our Chairman and China’s Path is Our Path,” he was prepared to extend it to the point where the Naxalites remained silent while General Yahya Khan committed genocide in East Pakistan (Bangladesh), because, at the time, China was an ally of Pakistan. There was silence too, over the Khmer Rouge and its killing fields in Cambodia. There was silence over the egregious excesses of the Chinese and Russian revolutions. Silence over Tibet.

Given my views on what is happening in Kashmir now, it is not surprising that Hindu Nationalists are rushing to generate outrage over this exciting new/old canard they have dug up about my supposed denial of the genocide in Bangladesh and the deeds of the Pakistan Army in Pakistan. Anybody who has even a passing acquaintance with my writing, will not entertain this idea for even one second. I do not believe that the States of India, Pakistan or Bangladesh are in any way morally superior to one another. In India right now, the architecture of pure fascism is being put into place. Anybody who resists it risks being smeared, trolled, jailed, or beaten down. But it will be resisted.

The portions highlighted in red are the ones that give us a true window into her soul, and a glimpse into just how shrewd, useless, shameless and manipulative this “apology” really is.

First, she reiterates her point that the Indian State has waged a war against its own people. Let us be amply clear here. She has not apologised for her statement deriding the Indian State. She has not retracted her statement about India waging a war against its own people. Since we are on the subject of Kashmir, Roy would do well to remember that it was the Pakistan that sent barbarians knocking at Kashmir’s door in 1947. That Maharaja Hari Singh had famously muttered ‘we have lost Kashmir’ when he heard that Pakistani raiders were swarming in from across the border. It was his forces that had been slaughtered mercilessly, their women raped and killed, children orphaned when they were defeated in Muzaffarabad. In Baramullah, right before the Indian State sent its Army to defeat Pakistan, the barbarians were murdering, raping, plundering, slaughtering. The saga of atrocities began with Pakistan and ends with Pakistan.

Till date, Pakistan has spent money and resources in waging a war against India that bleeds with a thousand cuts. They send their Jihadis to slaughter innocents in the name of Jihad. When Arundhati Roy’s heart bleeds, one must ask, who does it bleed for? The stone-pelting mobs who are paid by Pakistan? The separatists who live in plush houses, send their kids abroad for an education but demand that poor mothers sacrifice their sons to Jihad in Kashmir? The terrorists who pick up weapons, weapons supplied by Pakistan? The Hizbul Mujahideen? Kashmir has a unique problem. Hoards of average Kashmiri citizens want a normal, peaceful life. However, in the areas where terrorists are stronger, they support the terrorists as a method of survival. Where the Indian Army is stronger, they support the Indian Army. When Roy speaks of the average Kashmir and glosses over the Pakistan sponsored terrorists, is it her measured contention that the average Kashmiri should forever side with Jihad? Live and die by the gun? What does Arundhati Roy want the Indian State to do, ultimately? Give up its head to save its limb?

Arundhati Roy is a writer and has the ability to dress her separatism up as intellectualism. What she truly wants is for India to roll over and perish. Her untruthfulness when dealing with the Kashmir issue itself proves it. India will not. Whether she retracts her statement or not.

Further, as Pakistan has reposed their faith in Arundhati Roy and Rahul Gandhi, Roy too takes her cue from Rahul and blames her shenanigans on the perils of a ‘freewheeling, extempore talk’. A sham excuse, to say the least. She has been spewing venom for decades and this video of hers was no different from her stated positions earlier.

Next, Arundhati Roy, to substantiate her lie that she has spoken against Pakistan government’s atrocities in the past, quotes a passage from her fiction book released in 2017. In that passage itself, the so-called Army officer first ‘admits’ to the Indian State doing ‘terrible things’ in Kashmir. Then, goes on to, as if to defend the supposed atrocities, cite how Pakistan committed genocide and the Bangladeshi Muslims are now killing Hindus.

What does it say about a political commentator and a self-proclaimed human rights activist if they can’t point towards one speech, one serious article, research paper, interview etc where they seriously and genuinely spoke of the thousands and millions being slaughtered by Pakistan in Balochistan? What does it say when the so-called activist has to rely on fiction, that too, a passage that seems like a fictitious Indian Army officer defending the supposed atrocities committed by the Indian State in Kashmir? Dr Allah Nazar, the chief of BLF has spoken to OpIndia in details about the atrocities committed by Pakistan in Balochistan. Pakistan has even used F16s in Balochistan. They have raped, plundered, looted, killed, abducted, slaughtered men, women and children. All Arundhati Roy could do, was point towards a passage, written against India, in a fiction book.

As the second example, she quotes an essay she had written in OutLook where she had defended Naxalites and Maoists and called them ‘Gandhian with guns’. In the one line that she has quoted that mentions the atrocities by Yahya Khan, what she doesn’t mention is that immediately after that, she also defends Charu Mazumdar as a flame that kept the ‘movement of revolution’ burning.

She writes:

And yet, despite these terrifying contradictions, Charu Mazumdar was a visionary in much of what he wrote and said. The party he founded (and its many splinter groups) has kept the dream of revolution real and present in India. Imagine a society without that dream. For that alone, we cannot judge him too harshly. Especially not while we swaddle ourselves with Gandhi’s pious humbug about the superiority of “the non-violent way” and his notion of trusteeship: “The rich man will be left in possession of his wealth, of which he will use what he reasonably requires for his personal needs and will act as a trustee for the remainder to be used for the good of society.” How strange it is, though, that the contemporary tsars of the Indian Establishment—the State that crushed the Naxalites so mercilessly—should now be saying what Charu Mazumdar said so long ago: China’s Path is Our Path. Upside Down. Inside Out.

Defending the violent, AK 47 bearing Left-Wing terrorists, Arundhati Roy writes in the same article:

At dawn, I say goodbye to Comrade Madhav and Joori, to young Mangtu and all the others. Comrade Chandu has gone to organise the bikes and will come with me to the main road. Comrade Raju isn’t coming (the climb would be hell on his knees). Comrade Niti (Most Wanted), Comrade Sukhdev, Kamla and five others will take me up the hill. As we start walking, Niti and Sukhdev casually but simultaneously unclick the safety catches of their AKs. It’s the first time I’ve seen them do that. We’re approaching the ‘Border’. “Do you know what to do if we come under fire?” Sukhdev asks casually, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. “Yes,” I said, “immediately declare an indefinite hunger strike.” He sat down on a rock and laughed. We climbed for about an hour. Just below the road, we sat in a rocky alcove, completely concealed, like an ambush party, listening for the sound of the bikes. When it comes, the farewell must be quick. Lal Salaam Comrades. When I looked back, they were still there. Waving. A little knot. People who live with their dreams, while the rest of the world lives with its nightmares. Every night I think of this journey. That night sky, those forest paths. I see Comrade Kamla’s heels in her scuffed chappals, lit by the light of my torch. I know she must be on the move. Marching, not just for herself, but to keep hope alive for us all. 

The word ‘Gandhian’ was used 5 times in the article where she sat, dined and praised her ‘comrades’ with AK 47s.

As an aside, it must be remembered that the Charu Mazumdar she heaps praise on in this article in a convicted Naxal. He was the founder of the violent, armed “struggle” against the Indian State. The romanticisation of the violent, blood-soaked Naxalbari ‘movement‘ has not stopped, and Arundhati Roy is one of the tools who furthers that propaganda.

Interestingly, while trying to defend herself and assert that she did indeed condemn Pakistan’s atrocities in Balochistan, she terms it, in her ‘apology’, as “Pakistan Army’s deeds in Pakistan’. Anyone who truly understands history or understands the struggle of the Baloch people know that they don’t consider themselves to be a part of Pakistan. They have, repeatedly, called the province “Occupied Balochistan”. Arundhati Roy does not acknowledge their struggle and that fact. In essence, the reference to Balochistan is hogwash and does not reflect what she truly believes.

She then spews her regular venom against ‘Hindu Nationalists’ and says that India has a fascist regime. Nothing new. This is the propaganda spread by hundreds and has been rebutted, time and again, to no avail. However, what she forgets to mention is that it is not the ‘Hindu Nationalists’ who used “dug up” the clip this time, it is Pakistan who is using her video to deride India. In her statement, the condemnation due to Pakistan is missing, obviously. She also forgets that several people from Congress itself have thrown her under the bus and are condemning her statements.

Arundhati Roy’s “apology” was a mockery of the Indian State and Indians. She reiterated her ignorance and prejudices, she reinforced her propaganda against India, Hindus, the Indian Army and re-proclaimed her love for Naxals, Pakistan and the section of Muslims that wield guns and bombs. While she proclaims her concern for Muslims, she obviously forgets an Aurangzeb who died at the hands of Pakistan terrorists and the scores of men of honour who have laid their lives down in the service of Bharat. All she does is propagate a violent theory that manically wants India to bleed.

India will not bleed. India will live on. We will survive. Regardless of elements like Arundhati Roy.

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Nupur J Sharma
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