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‘Glorification of terrorism, open calls for secession and repetition of Pakistani propaganda’: Read Arundhati Roy’s anti-India speech from 2010 for which she faces charges under UAPA

During her speech, Arundhati Roy openly called for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India and reiterated the Pakistani narrative of 'Azadi.'

The day was 21st October 2010. Controversial author Arundhati Roy was invited to a seminar titled ‘Azadi: The Only Way‘ alongside other anti-India activists such as Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Sheikh Showkat Hussain and SAR Geelani.

The event was organised by Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP in the National Capital of Delhi. During the course of the programme, Arundhati Roy delivered a 15-minute-long speech and provoked people against the Indian State.

OpIndia has been able to access the complete, unedited and uncut version of her seditious speech which received an overwhelming response from her supporters at that time. An 8-minute video of the speech is produced here.

At the very onset, the controversial author claimed that the Indian State had waged a war against the poor in India.

While capitalising on popular discontentment in tribal areas during the then UPA era, Arundhati Roy had said, “About a week or 10 days ago, I was in Ranchi where there was a Peoples’ Tribunal against Operation Green Hunt— which is the Indian state’s war against the poorest people in this country

She recounted that a journalist asked her about her stance on the Indian Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. “So I said, look, Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. However aggressively and however often you want to ask me that,” she parroted the Pakistani talking point on the erstwhile Indian State.

Creating ethnic and communal discord across India

Thereafter, Arundhati Roy went on to exploit existing fault lines and claimed that the Indian State was colonising parts of India through military interventions. She further alleged that minorities and certain ethnic groups were being ‘persecuted’ by the ‘upper caste Hindu State’.

“The British drew the map of India in 1899— so that country became a colonizing power the moment it became independent, and the Indian state has militarily intervened in Manipur, in Nagaland, in Mizoram, in Kashmir, in Telangana, during the Naxalbari uprising, in Punjab, in Hyderabad, in Goa, in Junagarh…So often the Indian government, the Indian state, the Indian elite, they accuse the Naxalites of believing in protracted war, but actually you see a State—the Indian State—that has waged protracted war against its own people or what it calls its own people relentlessly since 1947, and when you look at who are those people that it has waged war against— the Nagas, the Mizos, the Manipuris, people in Assam, Hyderabad, Kashmir, Punjab—it’s always a minority, the Muslims, the Tribals, the Christians, the Dalits, the Adivasis, endless war by an upper caste Hindu state, this is what is the modern history of our country.

After provoking a section of Indian society, the controversial author then openly called for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India. She reiterated the Pakistani narrative of ‘Azadi’ and how India has occupied Kashmir and its people.

Recounting a 2007 interaction with a journalist, Arundhati Roy remarked, “India needs azaadi from Kashmir just as much as Kashmir needs azaadi from India”, and when I said India, I did not mean the Indian state, I meant the Indian people because I think that the occupation of Kashmir— today there are 700,000 security personnel manning that valley of 12 million people— it is the most militarized zone in the world— and for us, the people of India, to tolerate that occupation is like allowing a kind of moral corrosion to drip into our bloodstream.

Despite being well aware that their provocative remarks in the National Capital could potentially create law and order discord in the Valley, she continued, “Kashmiris cannot inhale and exhale without their breath going through the barrel of an AK-47. So, so many things have been done there, every time there’s an election and people come out to vote, the Indian government goes and says—“Why do you want a referendum? There was a vote and the people have voted for India…”

False equivalence between Kashmiri separatism to India’s freedom movement

While drawing a false analogy, she claimed that the fight for ‘Azadi’ in Kashmir is akin to India’s fight against colonial British rule.

Roy continued, “Now, sometimes it’s very difficult to know from what place one stands on as formally a citizen of India, what can one say, what is one allowed to say, because when India was fighting for independence from British colonization— every argument that people now use to problematize the problems of azaadi in Kashmir were certainly used against Indians. Crudely put, “the natives are not ready for freedom, the natives are not ready for democracy.”

The colonial state whether it was the British State in India or whether it’s the Indian State in Kashmir or Nagaland or in Chattisgarh, they are in the business of creating elites to manage their occupations, so you have to know your enemy and you have to be able to respond in ways where you’re tactical, where you’re intelligent, where you’re political— internationally, locally and in every other way— you have to make your alliances, because otherwise you’ll be like fish swimming furiously around a fish tank bombing the walls and getting tired in the end because those walls are very very strong,” she said towards the end of her speech.

Doomsday prophecies, fearmongering and glorification of Islamic terror

She also fear-mongered about the mass deployment of the Indian police, paramilitary and army in the whole of central India – a doomsday prophecy that did not materialise even after 14 years.

So we are a slave nation today, our economy is completely—however much the Sensex may be growing, the fact is the reason that the Indian police, the paramilitary and soon perhaps the army will be deployed in the whole of central India is because it’s an extractive colonial economy that’s being foisted on us“, the controversial author continued with her fearmongering.

Arundhati Roy did not mince words before hailing anti-social elements and domestic terrorists (Maoists and Islamic terrorists) as ‘fighters for resistance.’

“…It’s also very easy for us to continue to pat ourselves on the backs as great fighters for resistance for anything whether it’s the Maoists in the forests or whether it’s the stone pelters on the streets— but actually we must understand that we are up against something very serious and I’m afraid that the bows and arrows of the Adivasis and the stones in the hands of the young people are absolutely essential but they are not the only thing that’s going to win us freedom, and for that we need to be tactical, we need to question ourselves, we need to make alliances, serious alliances.”

The controversial author also made sure to undermine the growth of radical Islamism and claimed it to be make-believe concept, stemming from ‘economic totalitarianism’ and ‘Hindu Fascism.’

I often say that in 1986 when capitalism won its jihad against soviet communism in the mountains of Afghanistan, the whole world changed and India realigned itself in the unipolar world and in that realignment it did two things, it opened two locks , one was the lock of the Babri Masjid and one was the lock of the Indian markets and it ushered in two kinds of totalitarianism- Hindu fascism, Hindutva fascism and economic totalitarianism and both these manufactured their own kinds of terrorism —so you have Islamist “terrorists” and the Maoist “terrorists,” she continued.

Incitement, provocation and more unsubstantiated claims

Arundhati Roy also glorified terrorism and urged the common people of Jammu and Kashmir to continue to overthrow the Indian State and undermine the nation’s sovereignty. She continued to make outrageous claims albeit without evidence to incite those who are yet to pick up arms.

I haven’t been to Kashmir recently— but I’ve seen and my heart is filled with appreciation for the struggle that people are waging, the fight that young people are fighting and I don’t want them to be let down. I don’t want them to be let down even by their own leaders because I want to believe that this fight is a fight for justice. Not a fight in which you pick and choose your justices—“we want justice but it’s ok if the other chap is squashed”. That’s not right...

And in the Kashmir valley you have such a sophisticated understanding of repression, 60 years of repression of secret operations, of spying, of intelligence operations, of death, of killing. But have you insulated yourself from that other understanding, of what the world is today? What these economic structures are? What kind of Kashmir are you going to fight for? Because we are with you in that fight, we are with you. But we want, we hope that it’ll be a fight for justice.

With an eye to create communal tension between Hindus and Muslims, she remarked, “We know today that this word ‘secularism’ that the Indian state flings at us is a hollow word because you can’t kill 68,000 Kashmiri Muslims and then call yourself a secular state. You cannot allow the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat and call yourself a secular state and yet you can’t then turn around and say that “we are allowed to treat our minorities badly “—so what kind of justice are you fighting for? I hope that the young people will deepen their idea of Azaadi, it is something that the State and your enemies that you’re fighting uses to divide you. That’s true.

Besides Jammu and Kashmir, Arundhati Roy had tried to sow seeds of mass uprising in Nagaland and Chhattisgarh by peddling make-believe stories.

You have to ask yourselves why—the people of Nagaland must ask themselves why there’s a Naga battalion committing the most unbelievable atrocities in Chhatisgarh. After spending so much time in Kashmir watching the CRPF and the BSF and the Rashtriya Rifles lock down that valley, the firat time I went to Chhattisgarh, on the way I saw Kashmiri BSF, Kashmiri CRPF on the way to kill people in Chhatisgarh. You’ve got to ask yourself— there’s more to resistance than throwing stones— these things can’t be allowed to happen— “how is the state using people?” she had said.

Undermining genocide against Kashmiri Pandits

Interstingly, Arundhati Roy was quick to gloss over the genocide of Kashmiri Pandits when quizzed about it by an audience member. She resorted to whitewashing the atrocities by suggesting that Kashmir is a diverse place and majority want the pandits back in the Valley.

“I know the story of the Kashmiri pandits. I also know that the story that these Panun Kashmir pandits put out is false. However, this does not mean that injustice was not done…So, to just try and derail things by shouting at people is completely pointless because I think that people, the pandits in Kashmir, all the time I’ve spent in Kashmir, have only heard people say they are welcome back and I know people who live there, who believe that too…”

The developments in the case

Soon after the controversial author delivered her speech in October 2010, a case was registered against her based on a complaint by one Sushil Pandit (the then campaign manager of Arun Jaitley).

A First Information Report (FIR) was registered on 29th November 2010 in connection to the case.

Arundhati Roy was booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (assertions prejudicial to national integration), 504 (insult to provoke breach of peace) and 505 (rumour circulated with intent to cause mutiny).

After almost 14 years of no crucial development in the case, the Lieutenant Governor on Friday (14th June) sanctioned the prosecution of Arundhati Roy Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

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