Arundhati Roy’s statement from Srinagar

26 Oct

I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I
may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent
public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say
every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written
and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my
speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I
spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of
the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri
Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their
homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited
on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor
who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now
learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which
had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the
brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose
bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose
murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who
is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people
crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get
‘insaf’—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was
their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through
their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his
friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody
and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of
wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love
and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped,
imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force
them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a
society that is striving to be a just one. 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.

Arundhati Roy
October 26, 2010

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Posted by on October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized


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