Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Whither Kashmir? Freedom or Enslavement - Arundhati speaks controversy

Do you have to agree to a point of view to be able to appreciate the intent for that point of view? Maybe not, at least not always and certainly not necessarily.

The controversy started when Arundhati spoke at the seminar organised by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society on 'Whither Kashmir? Freedom or Enslavement' in New Delhi on 21st October. Apart from a lot of other things that she said, the one sentence that created the controversy was “Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this”.

Sounds controversial when one reads it for the first the first time, but is it fit to be labeled anti-national? Expressing whats on your mind into words suddenly makes you eligible for being booked for sedition? Enough number of Kashmiris say this almost in every single rally that happens, not just in Srinagar, but in the rest of Kashmir as well. Is it not more logical to non-judgmental and just listen to what is being said and make an effort to understand the why behind it?  Enough number of Indians (living within the international borders, which often doesn't even include the valley) have over the years accused the Indian government of neglecting them and making them completely alienated with the Union - North-east is an obvious example, and even Maoists may fall into this category. So when our own so-called citizens feel so cut-off from the rest of us, whose fault is it, or rather whose responsibility is it to change that? And if they continue to feel this way, does it mean we will force our rule on them because we lay claim to the piece of land which originally belonged to them (the Indian Republic came into existence only in the last century)? How sensible is to keep occupying a piece of land where people do not want you, or where possibly a majority might even want to completely do away with you?

These are lots of questions, and the answers may even be contradictory. But we still need to seek answers to these. It makes me so uncomfortable that we fight over what Arundhati says, but do not even try to understand that at the heart of it there is so much empathy. She is an activist, and she is doing a fine job at keeping the government on its toes. Maybe all the controversy surrounding

I am a supporter of free speech, however, the definition of free speech means different things to different people. Let there be a debate, let there be an open and frank debate. India's position is indefensible in some areas and the first thing would be to accept these and move forward. I hope to see more sensible feedback from political parties, rather than the hurried criticisms of anyone who dares to speak differently. We risk not being a free society anymore.

Here is a speech by her, just sit back and think why people (presumably mostly Kashmiris) cheer so much for her. What is it that she says that makes a connect with the people?


  1. Ahhh freedom of speech, it does mean different things to different people. And you're right, Roy does have some controversial views (which at one point I thought she had them just for the sake of being controversial, shame on me) but if people don't like them they can just disagree with her. Not silence her.

  2. Hmmm...yes, i am completely with disagreement, its the hallmark of a democracy. I just hope a debate starts and people are allowed to talk, its time for us to accept that views exist in the world which are different from what the constitution says or the majority thinks!


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