The Indian government is planning to prosecute Arundhati Roy.


June 17, 2024, 1:21pm

Arundhati Roy, the internationally recognized author and activist, is currently wanted by the Indian authorities. This comes after the Lieutenant General of Delhi granted police permission to prosecute the Booker Prize-winning novelist under a draconian anti-terrorism statute called the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. This statute allows the state to incarcerate a person before they’re given a trial.

Though long in the crosshairs of India’s far-right administration for her outspoken critique of the BJP (Prime Minister Modi’s proto-fascist ruling party), Roy’s specifically being targeted for remarks she made in a 2010 speech.

At a conference at the Little Theatre Group in New Delhi, Roy delivered a lecture critiquing India’s “extractive colonial economy,” and the state’s occupation and administration of Kashmir. Her critics at the time decried this as a call for Kashmiri secession.

Kashmir has been the subject of heated and bloody political debate since Partition. Both India and Pakistan have claimed authority over the region—though per Article 370 in the Indian constitution, it operated as a semi-autonomous state before 2019, when Modi’s government revoked this status.

In the years since, resistance to Indian rule has grown there. Roy catalogued this movement in her 2020 essay collection, Azadi: Freedom, Fascism, Fiction—which book takes its name from a Kashmiri resistance cry, and the Urdu word for freedom. Elsewhere, she’s enunciated a strong critique of Hindu nationalism.

The liberal diaspora is rallying around their beloved national hero, who was believed to be above this kind of high-profile indictment. In The Guardian, India’s Communist party denounced the arrest order as “condemnable,” and noted its extra-suspicious timing: Indian courts are currently on vacation.

The author and journalist Siddhartha Deb also asserted some bad faith suspicions on Democracy Now this morning. “This case is so convoluted, it’s hard to say where it begins and where it ends—and that’s the point,” she said. “The process is the punishment.”

Many believe that Modi’s party resurrected the 14 year old charges as an attempt to assert cultural power after recent electoral setbacks stripped the BJP of its parliamentary majority.

Under Modi’s reign, many culture workers and activists have been silenced or imprisoned for dissent.

Along with Roy, Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a former professor at the Central University of Kashmir is also being targeted by authorities at this time.



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