Arundhati Roy: Kashmir Is not Part of India – 27 Oct 10

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I am sure you have heard and read about the difficult situation in Kashmir, the state in the North-West of India which is just on the border to Pakistan and China. There have been problems, discussions and many violent outbreaks and conflicts about the question whether that area should belong to Pakistan or to India. There are even people who are called the ‘separatists’ who wish for Kashmir to become a separate and sovereign country. The government however does not allow groups that spread ideas against the unity of the nation, which want to separate the country because they spread hatred and create fights.

A popular Indian writer, Arundhati Roy, who has won many prizes, among them a Bookers Prize, for her books, has given a speech that created big controversies and a national outcry. In that speech she gave the statement that Kashmir has never been an integral part of India and should be its own country.

Both, the governing party and the opposition, show themselves shocked that this author made such a statement. They want to take action against her and she could as well face a sentence in jail but she refers to freedom of speech and says she just voices what many people in Kashmir are saying every day. The government also sees that it has to be careful not to give this debate and the separatists more fuel by taking strong action against Roy.

Well, in a way she is right, what she said is nothing new, we have heard this from politicians like Geelani and know that there are people in that region who believe that it would be a solution to have a separate country. Now however a popular writer expressed this opinion and used words destined to incinerate anger and hatred. Everybody should have and use his freedom of speech but you need to feel responsible for the effect of what you are saying!

You say this is the voice of people but how can you hurt and insult the whole of India in this way? If you say Kashmir has never been a part of India, then no state has ever been a part of India. Before India’s independence, there were many small separate states, so either none of the states was a part of India or all of them! Kashmir is an area loved by many people, people who live there, people in India and people all over the world. With these words you hurt them and you spread hatred.

Additionally you should think about what Kashmir would do as a separate country without the support of India! The world has seen that when small countries split off from big ones, they often are in a very bad state because they are suddenly fully on their own. Kashmir is now part of the world’s biggest democracy, India, but if they break with India, they will have difficulties surviving! They will be in a very difficult economic situation. It is a really beautiful country but this is not enough to survive!

Arundhati Roy has in the past already given statements that supported such causes and organizations, among them the Naxalites, a terrorist group. You may be a great writer, you may have won great prizes, but this also means that you have to take more responsibility for what you say. I expect this from a popular writer who has a voice and to whom people listen. Think of your responsibility and act accordingly.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/26/arundhati-roy-kashmir-india

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  1. Alexis Richards

    Thank you for your words Swami Ji. This situation about Kashmir brought something to mind. It is okay if you want one thing and someone else wants another. You are not automatically doing violence to anyone by having the kind of opinion that Miss Roy has about Kashmir. This kind of opinion could come from a place of great compassion and a solid understanding of the situation in Kashmir (I don’t know anything about her specific case). It is the way that you say things that can do harm to others. If you say something with clarity and compassion and others are extremely upset by it, they are creating that suffering for themselves. And that is very very sad. And after you have spoken with honesty you can address their anger with honesty, to help point steer them away from it.

  2. Auto

    Arundahti Roy feels disturbed by what she views as injustice. Other people feel disturbed by the disturbance they felt when she spoke. This disturbance spreads very quickly. The only way to stop it is to become aware of this cycle and make a decision not to be swept away in the current. This will spread to. Do not wish to harm Roy or put her in jail. Do not wish for her suffering. There is no need for this and further more it will create more internal violence (which can lead to external) on both sides of the fence.

  3. Ashley Lynsday from San Fransisco

    Kashmir wants to own their own land. The Indian government wants to own Kashmir. Both of these views come from the same source in many people. There is not much of a difference. If so many people are dieing in this conflict why does the government wish to prolong this? They do not wish for peace. They are wishing for something else. You will never squash the opposition by throwing them in jail for speaking from their heart. To take a pained person and then do more violence to them creates a great deal more violence in that person. And the people of Kashmir will not get what they want through the display of violence in their own hearts.

  4. Rebecca

    This is a tough situation. This is really tough. I hope that everyone on all sides can find peace and happiness.

  5. Kenny Walters

    It seems that people are not understanding each other. Instead they are becoming outraged or insulted. It is not the right view. But it is a very understandable one.

  6. Ramona

    I agree that it is all about the way how you say something.Of course, if someone popular comes and says: ‘I believe we should take into consideration that the people of Kashmir would be more happy and in peace if we gave them their territory. Let’s sit and discuss about the consequences and find a solution that ends the violence’
    This would not create such a wave of anger on both sides! But she said, they need freedom from the ‘hungry and naked India’. She actually insults India in her speech and states wrong facts, presenting it as if Kashmir did not belong to India.
    Actually the Maharaj Hari Singh of Kashmir signed the same document that more than 500 other princely states signed in 1947 in order to make India one country. It is just wrong to say anything else and this is why she should not have said it in this way.

  7. Kewal

    I think this is just a publicity stunt of Arundhati Roy to get popular overnight. How many people know her now who never heard of her before? But from this statement she got place in front page of newspaper.Otherwise who knows what is booker prize and how many people have read her books?
    I also knew her name but never really read her books or articles.
    Swami ji, I am with you when you say that a writer should be concerned of their words as they leave impressions on people.

  8. Swami Balendu

    I just read in today’s newspaper that Geelani has to pay 17 300 000 Rupees which he still owes the income tax department and which they now asked him to pay. The Newspaper writes further, back in 2002 when the income tax department did a raid in his and his family 19s house, they found and confiscated many valuable gifts which he got from the government of Pakistan including a diamond watch. This proves from where these separatist are getting commands and who is empowering them. They are puppets of Pakistan. It is unfortunate to see that Arundhati Roy is giving her support to people like Geelani.See here source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/defaulter-geelani-asked-to-pay-1.73-cr-as-it-dues/703332/

  9. Suresh

    Everybody knows how Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir and rest of India. Recently Ex-President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf accepted and stated that the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) promoted and organized terrorist activities in India.

  10. Nathan

    Do you know where cI can read more about the relationship between Geelani and the Pakistani government?

  11. Fredd

    I definitely think people should be able to say what they want without getting thrown in jail. But, if anything, controversy really fuels authors. think about Rushdie!

  12. Emily

    It would be challenging to be a public figure and have everyone blow your statements out of proportion. I definitely believe she has the right to say what she wants without going to jail for it. But now she knows how people will criticize her for it. So she, and all public figures, must be careful.

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