Ang Bayan Ngayon » Renowned Indian activist-writer faces state persecution

July 2, 2024

The reactionary Indian state has allowed the filing of a case against acclaimed novelist Arundhati Roy under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA, the country’s fascist “anti-terrorism” law. Roy is accused of sedition and “disruption of social harmony” based on her 2010 speech where she said Kashmir is not an integral part of India and recognized its right to self-determination. On June 14, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena approved the prosecution of Roy and Central University of Kashmir professor Sheik Showkat Hussain on these charges.

Roy is known for her novel “The God of Small Things,” which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1997. She is also known for her activism against destructive foreign dams that destroy the environment and dispossess Adivasis of their land. She has extensively written about damaging effects of neoliberal policies and grave human rights violations by the Indian state. Roy is one of the most outspoken critics of India’s fascist state, especially the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

In 2011, she published the book “Walking with Comrades,” recounting her experiences and stories from her brief visit to a People’s Liberation Guerilla Army unit of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). In this book, she condemned the counter-insurgency operation “Green Hunt,” which is ostensibly aimed at the communist movement but in reality is a front to clear the way for rapacious mining corporations to plunder the rich resources of India’s indigenous people.

Green Hunt is similar to the current Operation Kagaar in its aim to evict tribals from their communities under the pretext of counterinsurgency to pave the way for the plunder of India’s resources by large foreign corporations.

The PEN International, a group of progressive writers, condemned the Indian state’s move to file cases against Roy and Prof. Hussain. It criticized the UAPA as a draconian law that gives the state the power to arrest and imprison individuals even without filing charges.

Aside from Roy, the Indian state has unjustly imprisoned many writers, academics and journalists using this law. It violates numerous fundamental rights, including the right to free expression.

The UN Human Rights Office also criticized the state’s persecution of Roy and said it is a way to silence her and other government critics.

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