Friday, December 3, 2010

Arundhati Roy is being victimised by a State that's not in control

Dear Friends,

I have pasted below the speech that *Arundhati Roy *made at the the
`*Azadi' seminar *for which she and other speakers are being accused of*
"sedition"*. Those who are trying to have the speakers arrested are
spreading all kinds of rumours and falsehoods about the "provocative"
speeches made at that meeting. (Though, I firmly believe that in a
mature democracy you should be able to say absolutely anything without
fear of intimidation or reprisal.) Responding to a complaint made by one
*Mr. Sushil Pandit* (who I am told is a former campaign manager for
Arun Jaitley) the Police filed (PS Tilak Marg) a *Status Report* in
which they submitted that nothing that had been said at the meeting
could be deemed seditious. Despite the police report, the *Metropolitan
Magistrate Nivita Kumari Bagga* instructed the police to file an *FIR*
based on complaints made by Mr. Pandit.. As you all must have read in
the newspapers, an FIR has been filed against Roy and the other
speakers.Apart from the harassment that the speakers are being subjected
to, this development seriously threatens our right to free speech and
the very foundations of a democracy. *Therefore, please read the
transcript for yourself so that you know exactly what is being
considered "seditious". **Do feel free to share it with those who might
be interested. I only urge that you forward the speech in its entirety. *


Shohini Ghosh



SAR GEELANI: now I request Arundhati Roy to come and speak.

*AR*: If anybody has any shoes to throw, please throw them now ..

Some PPl in the audience: we‚re cultured∑etc..etc

*AR: *Good, I‚m glad. I‚m glad to hear that. Though being cultured is
not necessarily a good thing. But anyway..

[interruption from some ppl in the audience (inaudible in the video)]

SAR GEELANI: please will you talk afterwards. Now prove that you are

*AR: *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˜and at that
tribunal, just as I was leaving, a TV journalist stuck a mic in my face
and very aggressively said „Madam, is Kashmir an integral part of India
or not? Is Kashmir an integral part of India or not?‰ about 5 times. So
I said, look Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. However
aggressively and however often you want to ask me that. Even the Indian
government has accepted, in the UN that it‚s not an integral part of
India. So why are we trying to change that narrative now. See in 1947,
we were told that India became a sovereign nation and a sovereign
democracy, but if you look at what the Indian state did from midnight of
1947 onwards, that colonized country, that country that became a country
because of the imagination of its colonizer˜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.. (Someone‚s phone rings here).. 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. Now, in 2007, at the
time of the uprising in Kashmir against that whole acquisition of land
for the Amarnath Yatra, I was in Srinagar and I was walking down the
road and I met a young journalist, I think he was from Times of India,
and he said to me˜he couldn‚t believe that he saw some Indian
person˜walking alone on the road˜ and he said, „can I have a quote?‰, so
I said, „yes, do you have a pen? Because I don‚t want to be misquoted‰
and I said, „write down˜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
blood stream. So for me it‚s an intolerable situation to try and pretend
that it isn‚t happening even if the media blanks it out, all of us
know∑..or maybe all of us don‚t know∑.but any of us who‚ve visited
Kashmir know˜ that 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.‰ Now, I actually
think that we need to deepen our thinking a little bit because I too am
very proud of this meeting today, I think it‚s a historic meeting in
some ways, it‚s a historic meeting taking place in the capital of this
very hollow superpower, a superpower where 830 million people live on
less than 20 rupees a day. 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‰, but every kind of
complication was also true, I mean the great debates between Ambedkar
and Gandhi and Nehru ˆ they were also real debates and over these last
60 years whatever the Indian State has done, people in this country have
argued and debated and deepened the meaning of freedom. We have also
lost a lot of ground because we‚ve come to a stage today where India a
country that once called itself Non Aligned , that once held its head up
in pride has today totally lain down prostrate on the floor at the feet
of the USA. 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. But the reason
that I said what we need to do is to deepen this conversation is because
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∑. Because∑ 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‰˜ and this process has made 80%
of this country live on 20 rupees a day but it has divided us all up and
we spend all our time fighting with each other when in fact there should
be deep solidarity. There should be deep solidarity between the
struggles in Manipur, the struggles in Nagaland, the struggle in
Kashmir, the struggle in central India and in all the poor, squatters,
the vendors , all the slum dwellers and so on. But what is it that
should link these struggles? It‚s the idea of Justice because there can
be struggles which are not struggles for justice, there are peoples
movements like the VHP is a peoples movement˜but it‚s a struggle for
fascism, it‚s a struggle for injustice, we don‚t align ourselves with
that. So every movement, every person on the street, every slogan is not
a slogan for justice. So when I was in Kashmir on the streets during the
Amarnath Yatra time, and even today˜ 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. So I remember when I wrote in 2007, I said the one thing that
broke my heart on the streets of Srinagar, was when I heard people say
„Nanga Bhooka Hindustan, jaan se pyaara Pakistan‰. I said „No. Because
the Nanga Bhooka Hindustan is with you. And if you‚re fighting for a
just society then you must align yourselves with the powerless‰, the
Indian people here today are people who have spent their lives opposing
the Indian state. I have, as many of you may know, been associated for a
long time with the struggle in the Narmada valley against big dams and I
always say that I think so much about these two valleys - the Kashmir
valley and the Narmada valley. In the Narmada valley, they speak of
repression, but perhaps the people don‚t really know what repression is
because they‚ve not experienced the kind of repression that there is in
the Kashmir valley. But they have a very very very sophisticated
understanding of the economic structures of the world of imperialism and
of the earth and what it does and how those big dams create an
inequality that you cannot get away from. 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. We know today that this word
Œsecularism‚ 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.

[Some ppl in theAudience: „Do you know what happened to the pundits?(not
very audible)..etc ..etc..]

*AR: *I know the story of the Kashmiri pundits. I also know that the
story that these Panun Kashmir pundits put out is false. However, this
does not mean that injustice was not done.

[Ppl in Audience: interrupting and inaudible, all taking at the same
time∑ „do you know how many hindus were killed?‰∑ commotion.. no one
can hear anyone].

*AR: *I think∑ok let me continue.. [part of the crowd arguing loudly]..

SAR GEELANI: I request everyone to please sit.

*AR: *Alright, I want to say that, I think this disturbance is based on
a misunderstanding, because I was beginning to talk about justice and in
that conversation about justice, I was just about to say that what
happened with the Kashmiri pundits is a tragedy, so I don‚t know why you
all started shouting, I think it‚s a tragedy because when we stand here
and talk about justice, it is justice for everybody, and those of us who
stand here and talk about their being a place for everybody whether
there‚s a minority whether it‚s an ethnic minority or a religious
minority or minority in terms of caste, we don‚t believe in
majoritarianism so that‚s why I was talking about the fact that
everybody in Kashmir should have a very deep discussion about what kind
of society you‚re fighting for because Kashmir is a very diverse
community and that discussion does not have to come from critics or
people who are against azaadi trying to divide this struggle , it has to
come from within you so it is not the place of people outside to say
„they don‚t know what they mean by azaadi, do they mean Gilgit and
Baltistan, what about Jammu? What about Laddakh?‰ These are debates that
people within the state of J&K are quite capable of having by themselves
and I think they understand that. So, to just try and derail things by
shouting at people is completely pointless because I think that people,
the pundits 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, so all I want to say is that when we are having
these political debates, I feel I have watched and have been listening
to and following the recent uprising in Kashmir, the fact that unarmed
people, young people armed with stones, women, even children are out on
the streets facing down this massive army with guns is something that
nobody in the world cannot help but salute. However it is up to the
people who are leading this struggle, it is up to the people who are
thinking to take it further, because you cannot just leave it there˜
because the Indian state, you know what its greatest art is˜ it‚s not
killing people ˆ that‚s its second greatest art, the first greatest art
is to wait, to wait and wait and wait and hope that everybody‚s energies
will just go down. Crisis management, sometimes it‚s an election,
sometimes it‚s something else, but the point is that people have to look
at more than a direct confrontation on the streets. 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?‰ 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. So I‚ll just leave with this:
Think about justice and don‚t pick and choose your injustices, don‚t say
that „I want justice but it‚s ok if the next guy doesn‚t have it, or the
next woman doesn‚t have it‰. Because justice is the keystone to
integrity and integrity is the key stone to real resistance.

Thank you.

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