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October 30, 2010 / Rohit

Kashmir and the Azadi Conference

After starting graduate school I have hardly been following the political affairs. Though a few days back, I noticed that a lot of emotions were stirred when Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Geelani made speeches in a conference held in New Delhi called the “Azadi Conference.”  I think the main issues, which the mainstream didn’t like, were these:

  1. Arundhati Roy saying that “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India.
  2. Her implying that the Indian state was the enemy of the Kashmiri people. I quote:

The colonial state whether British state in India or Indian state in Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, etc. they are in business to create elite to manage their atrocities … You have to know your enemy and you have to be able to respond by aligning tactically, intelligently, locally or internationally

The media and the people are now debating over why Roy said such things. The speech and its contents are being described as “anti-India“, “demeaning our Jawaans” and also something which could be charged with sedition. There are people who claim that the motive behind Roy’s remarks are an effort to stay in the limelight, especially with the US president Obama soon visiting India. And to avoid letting her gain these objectives, some say, we should ignore her.

Arundhati Roy later responded to these charges:

“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.

I don’t claim expert knowledge on the Kashmir issue and won’t comment on the opinions ventured by Roy and Geelani. But ignoring the voices of such people is something which I would not do. A dissident’s voice is bound to be criticized and maligned by the mainstream. Whether you agree with them or not is a separate thing, but you should listen to them.

Arundhati Roy’s speech from the Azadi conference:

Geelani’s speech from the same conference (Urdu):

One of the most important documents related to the Kashmir dispute is the UN Security Council Resolution 47, which recommended  to “bring about a cessation of the fighting and to create proper conditions for a free and impartial plebiscite.” I would suggest reading the resolution to gain context.

P.S: Exams start next week, and I still haven’t started studying.

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