If only Arundhati would quit India

Shravan Krushna Ashtami

By Kanchan Gupta

There can be nothing more pathetic than a middle-aged ‘radical’ preaching treason and penning seditious pamphlets. As a friend, who spent his 20s fighting for lost causes and getting beaten up by the police before being frog-marched to Kolkata’s Lalbazar lock-up on more than one occasion and has since settled down to a life of affluence in the US, pointed out, people with spreading midriffs and receding hairlines do not make a pretty sight while manning the barricades.

Regis Debray participated in the ‘revolution in the revolution’ and then joined the establishment. Daniel Marc Cohn-Bendit, better known as ‘Danny the Red’ and a hero of the summer of 1968, now heads a group of loopy Greens in the European Parliament. Tariq Ali, he who breathed fire and brimstone every time he opened his mouth, leads the occasional march against America in London and writes ponderous articles for The Guardian which are dutifully read by the street-fighting generation. So, you see, my friend said, pouring himself an extra large measure of single malt, it’s best you leave dissent to the young for whom being on the Left is as fashionable as wearing Prada.

That conversation, which took place on a winter evening at his suburban home in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, came to mind as I read about Arundhati Roy’s seditious comments after attending a rally organised by Muslim separatists of the Kashmir Valley on August 19. She was clearly impressed by the turnout, as were Mohammed Ali Jinnah and his cohorts when they saw the first train carrying future Pakistanis trundling into what was supposed to be the ‘land of the pure’ but has turned out to be a sinful Jihadistan.

Jinnah, the ‘sole spokesman’, and his Muslim League were equally delighted by the bloodletting on Direct Action Day, August 16, 1946, and held it up as evidence of the impossibility of Muslims cohabiting with Hindus in Hindustan. Six decades later, more Muslims live peacefully with Hindus in Hindustan than Muslims live with Muslims in Pakistan. But we digress.

"If no one is listening then it is because they don’t want to hear. Because this is a referendum," Arundhati Roy told mediapersons after the rally, "People don’t need anyone to represent them, they are representing themselves." She then went on to assert with a flourish, "India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India."

There is understandable anger over her remarks, although the Congress need not have tried to distance itself from Arundhati Roy’s new age sedition: It’s the appalling denigration of nationalism and faith in the nation, which the Congress unabashedly indulges in to proclaim its ‘secular’ credentials, that encourages Arundhati Roy and her tribe to ridicule India, repudiate our national identity and revile our democracy. Curiously, it’s rather strange that having declared some years ago that she was "seceding from India", Arundhati Roy continues to foul this land for which she has nothing but contempt. Or else she would not have used her invitation to a book-reading session in the US to declare that "there is no democracy in India".

A pity. If only we were not democratic to a fault with a quisling for Prime Minister and a dissolute Congress in power, Arundhati Roy would have been hauled up under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967, amended in 2004-05. The Act says, "Secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union includes the assertion of any claim to determine whether such part will remain a part of the territory of India." The offences listed under this law include any assertion or statement "which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory of India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring about such cession or secession".

Since Arundhati Roy has not denied having said what has been attibuted to her by the media, she should be prosecuted. Others have landed behind bars under the same law for having said and/or done stuff that pales into insignificance when compared to her latest call for treason. The law, we are told every now and then, applies equally to all.

But as George Orwell was to demonstrate, while all animals are equal, some are more equal than others. So, Arundhati Roy gets away with no more than a wimp of a response from our political class. Page Three familiarity helps beat the system in this wondrous land of ours. Another way of looking at Arundhati Roy’s treachery would be to feel sorry for her. As I said earlier, there’s nothing more pathetic than a middle-aged ‘radical’ trying to grab space in newspapers and time on television, courtesy dumb journalists and starry-eyed anchors.

But Arundhati Roy is not alone in perverting the truth about Jammu & Kashmir. On August 20, Hindustan Times carried an asinine article written by Rajmohan Gandhi, defending the indefensible. In normal times, there would have been no cause to respond to Rajmohan Gandhi’s article, ‘Lal before the storm’; the rant of someone who has monopolised the market for charming though inconsequential tales from the life of a certain Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi does not really merit serious comment. But these are not normal times. Hence, Mr Gandhi’s sly innuendoes and his attempt to peddle the same old bunkum about Jammu & Kashmir needs to be contested, if only to show that it is he who has indulged in half-truths and non-truths to provide oxygen to the fire raging in the Kashmir Valley.

It is obvious that Mr Gandhi has either not bothered to read the full text of Mr LK Advani’s letter to the Prime Minister, written on August 13, or, having read it, he decided to ignore its thrust and contents to serve his own perverse agenda. Mr Advani says in his letter, "Let it be clearly understood. The problem in J&K today is not Hindu versus Muslim; nor is it even Jammu region versus the Valley." Having said this, Mr Advani contextualises the problem as a clash between ‘nationalists’ and ‘separatists’.

Mr Gandhi contests this view. Surely Mr Gandhi does not believe that the hordes of Kashmiri Muslims — actually, tens of thousands of them — who tried to march to Muzaffarabad, waving the Pakistani flag and holding aloft placards with Jinnah’s portrait, are ‘nationalists’ whose hearts beat for India? The use of the national tricolour by the protesters in Jammu to declare their loyalty to India must be seen against the green-and-white-and-crescent backdrop of separatism in the Valley.

Daily Pioneer

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