I love reading Arundathi Roy’s articles, even though she tends to ramble. I love her language – its surprise turns. She is a lover of human race, and an ardent advocate of equity. Her earnestness reflects in her style, in her imagery. She becomes extremely poetic at times. She is genuine, not a publicity monger, as many make her out to be. I can sense that when i read her works.
But her position regarding the Maoists and Kashmir, well, it’s a big question mark for me. I cannot subscribe to her views. That’s because i think like an Indian citizen. Roy’s concerns cut across political boundaries, while she enjoys the freedoms and benefits of Indian democracy. She sees herself as a citizen of the community of human beings where there are the privileged and the underprivileged, where there is miscarriage of justice against which she feels the need to raise her voice.
I think like an Indian and i feel that when my country is going through a crisis, i should not do anything or say things which can put the state in a difficult situation. That’s my idea of patriotism, of loyalty to my country. Maybe that’s how nonentities think.
My knowledge of the Kashmir in not that of an expert, but of the average Indian who is convinced that the government of India’s position on Kashmir has been the right one. No matter which government is in power, the Kashmir policy has always remained the same.
We know that right from the time of accession, there has been discontentment among several elements in Kashmir. But we also know that they did not constitute the majority. When Pakistan sponsored an invasion of Kashmir in 1947, the then NC under Sheik Abdulla appealed to New Delhi to send the Indian army which received not only a rousing welcome from the people of Kashmir but also all support to repel the marauders.
We also know that Pakistan too stood in the way of plebiscite on the pretext of demilitarisation as a precondition to it. The actual reason was the fear that a referendum would be in favour secular India.
We know that the separatists were supported and sponsored by Pakistan with the aim of altering the demography of Kashmir. This resulted in the exodus of the Kashmiri pundits and other minority groups.
A referendum would no longer be valid - not without the votes of those who were driven out of Kashmir and are settled elsewhere, or are in the refugee camps.
We also know that the Muslim community in Kashmir is divided. The Shias in Kashmir shudder at the thought of accession to Pakistan, or even azadi for fear of a theocratic dispensation in an independent Kashmir.
So when Arundati Roy talks of voicing the wishes of the people of Kashmir, whom does she have in mind? That section of the population who have found voice because of the support from across the border?
Ms Roy talks of the brutal military rule in Kashmir. Hasn’t she any problems with the ruthless, mindless carnage that the Pakistan sponsored terrorists inflict on the people of Kashmir? Is it their rule that she advocates? The Indian army in Kashmir has come in for a lot of flak, it is true. But when it deals with hard core hate filled inhuman terrorists who not only indulge in bloodshed but also instigate insurgency and terrorise people into indulging in violence in the valley, its predicament is unenviable. Excesses happen, and they cannot be justified. It is a crisis situation. People like Ms Roy who get a lot of media coverage should not be so impervious to the predicament of the government and indulge in such irresponsible clamour for azadi.
Same with her position regarding Maoists, whose appalling violence deserves no justification whatsoever. Let Ms Roy address the situation constructively by using her celebrity status to propagate and perhaps set afoot through an NGO an alternate mode of development which is inclusive. Let her throw her heart and soul into evolving development models which factor in those who are marginalised by the present developmental policies. The nation will be grateful to her.
But if she goes up the hill and down the dale justifying violence and trivialising the sovereignty and integrity of the country, she is doing a terrible disservice to the nation and is no different from the armchair critics of establishment who get carried away by their own voice.
And if her speeches cause disaffection to the state the way Madani’s fiery speeches created the likes of Nazeer Thadiantavide, then the sedition law should be evoked against her.