She symbolizes courage and forthrightness, and yes, she is an Indian who sees the truth in Greater Kashmir. Kashmir from a pure humanistic perspective.
She is not Aasiya Indrabi, veiled in burqa, who Indians dub as separatist or fundamentalist. She is a secular, liberal, enlightened, progressive; pride from India. She has no ethnic, racial, linguistic, cultural, regional or religious relationship with the people of Kashmir. In fact, all such divisions of humanity melt before her. She knows the world and us from the prism of human perspective only. In her, the starved find the vent to yell at corporate globalization. In her, the oppressed find the strong advocate to fight and refuse capitulation. In her, the weak, depressed, and downtrodden find the resilience to call the bluff. Positioning herself on such moral turf, she fearlessly and magnificently struts out to keep her head high. She is Arundhati Roy, the celebrated author and winner of the 1997 Booker Prize for her masterpiece The God of Small Things. Cutting through the barriers of nationality, caste, and religion; she courageously, assiduously and effectively unveils the democratic face of the neo-colonialists who use democracy not as a project of empowerment, but as a tool to hold unwilling masses and thus butcher the very essence of democracy- the will of the majority. ‘This kind of democracy,’ the darling of millions repressed and victimized remarks, ‘is the problem, not the solution.’ She is one, rather the greatest, of the souls in India who had not held her conscience hostage to unjustified demands of patriotism and nationalism. Unfazed by the ruthless media trial to vilify the Kashmiri struggle for independence as ‘separatism and ‘terrorism’, the great champion of human rights displayed exemplary courage and honesty in revealing the ‘bare bones of humanity’ in the vale of terror and tears. Taking a strong exception to heavy concentration of troops in Kashmir, noted author says: ‘there are 700,000 fully armed Indian troops in Kashmir who are creating a situation, making it worse and worse and worse. So, the first thing that has to happen is that the army has to come out .’ (GK: 29 May, 2006). Coming down heavily on the ‘National’ media for its silence on gross human rights violations perpetrated by Security Forces in Kashmir, the writer par-excellence told a rally she attended in Delhi to mark the International Day of Disappeared: ‘there are eight to ten thousand disappeared people in Kashmir, but nobody talks about them in the mainstream Indian Media’. (GK: 29 May 2006). Berating Indian state on this issue, the celebrated writer wails in anger in her work, The Shape of the Beast: ‘even Pinochet’s Chile cannot boast of such numbers’. A greater humanist as she is, she consciously blends herself with the mission of truth and supports the freedom movement. It was because of this commitment that she refused to accept the Sahitya Academy Award for the book The Algebra of Infinite Justice. She sights the human rights violation in the Kashmir and North-Eastern parts of India to be the reason behind her disenchantment for the literary honor.
Thus exposing the definite dichotomy between precept and practice of Indian state. On the other hand, she differentiates herself from the patronized hacks who get into lime light in serenading the powerful and influential class. She is so committed to our cause that she proudly remarks: ‘I would not want to write a book on Kashmir; I hope Kashmir would be in all the books I write’. And not only on pages she pours her heart out, in the blood vessels of truthful philosopher, Kashmir runs and reverberates. She hasn’t, unlike the overwhelming majority of Indian journalists, intellectuals, academics, human rights groups and civil society, allowed her humanistic and truly democratic and secular profile to get blurred by myopic or jingoistic nationalist considerations. At a time when the Indian state blindfolds itself to the hard realities of Kashmir and refuses to honor the VERDICT people have pronounced through massive rallies, the revolutionary writer calls India to heed to the voice of the people and give Kashmiri people Aazadi. A witness to the gathering near the UNMOGIP office at Sonawar Srinagar on 18 August, Roy said that people of Kashmir have made themselves abundantly clear about what they want. ‘And if no one is listening then it is because they do not want to hear. Because this is referendum. People don’t need anyone to represent them; they are representing themselves. As somebody who has followed people’s movement and who has been in rallies and at the heart or at the edge of things, I don’t think you can dispute what you see here’ Roy said (Times of India, 20 August) .
She further said, ‘since the 1930s, there have been debates and disputes about who has the right to represent the Kashmir people, whether it was Hari singh or Shiekh Abdullah or some one else. And the debate continues till today whether it is the Huryat or some other parties. But I think today the people have represented themselves.’ The Indian intellectual has, in a crisply bold assertion, not only asked Indians to read the writing on the wall and accede the demand of Aazadi, but also taken the wind off the propaganda that only Indian managed and supervised elections are credible root to determine representative character. Elections, assembly or parliamentary, Delhi has always manipulated as a ‘genuine democratic expression’ reflecting ‘Kashmiri’s endorsement of J&K state’s accession to Indian union,’ even though these have yet to pass the muster of credibility and legitimacy. Even when these elections were never held on the issue of accession but for local governance. Never have Kashmiris accepted the ‘forced wed-lock’. Now tearing apart all such veneers of deception, the freedom loving people have grown mature enough to refrain from weaving the cocoon of perpetual subjugation. In referendum, people give a yes or no verdict. Kashmiris have clearly and unambiguously said NO to India. The talented scholar, acknowledged world over, has urged Indian leadership to let Kashmir go peacefully as she argues: ‘India needs Aazadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs Aazadi from India’. It is a win-win situation for both. Both get free. India from the imperialist groove its outstretching ambitious claws have stuck it in. Kashmir from the bondage it is struggling to come out from. Integrating an unwilling population, India risks forfeiting its democratic claim. Kashmir has proved an albatross around its neck. After 60 years of concerted efforts – military muscles, persuasion, Trojan horses and other deceptive stratagems – India has failed to win Kashmiris in its union fold. The festering sour has developed into a gangrene which refuses to heal. It is in this perspective Roy holds India seek Azadi from Kashmir. And until India doesn’t give up rigidity, Kashmir would exact its own “pound of flesh” from her. Through black outs, surging sea of defying heads and in pronouncing peoples’ verdict. And in demonstrating “tulip gardens” in the shape of enforced deaths, unnamed graveyards, rapes and black laws. Kashmir, we honestly believe, has belittled and spoiled the human profile of India. It is time it heeds Roy, if not us.
TAIL PIECE: Asma Jahangir visited Kashmir last year. The noted liberal and human rights activist from Pakistan bellowed her anger on the plight of Mukhtara Mayee and other human rights violation in Pakistan. But sealed her mouth on the fate of our thousands Mukhtara Mayees and didn’t utter a word on the hell let loose here in Kashmir. She is a Pakistani, a “Muslim”, who reduced herself into a puppet. Kashmir exposed her ‘liberal’ exterior. Unlike her, a non-Muslim Roy has spoken in synch with the genuine demand of oppressed Kashmiris. She didn’t barter her conscience. She didn’t corrupt her mind and soul. Resisting all temptations and fears she stood witness to the truth, as Quran tells us, ‘Bear witness to the truth even if it brings harm to you, your family or your tribe’. We have no words to express our gratitude to this monumental asset of humanity called Arundati Roy. Salute to you! Salam to you!