Arundhati Roy: Whither Kashmir – Freedom or Enslavement?
Arundhati Roy at a groundbreaking seminar, ‘Azadi: The Only Way,’ organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) in New Delhi, India, on October 21st, 2010, asserted that:
[Kashmir] has never been an integral part of India and the Indian government recognised it as a disputed territory and took it to the UN on its own accord. In 1947 we were told that India became a sovereign democracy. But it became a country as per the imagination of its colonizer, and continued to be a colonizer even after the British left the country. Indian state forcibly or deceitfully annexed the North-East, Goa, Junagarh, Telangana, etc… the Indian state has waged a protracted war against the people which it calls its own. Who are the people it has waged war against? The people of North-East, Kashmir, Punjab, etc. This is an upper caste Hindu state waging a continuing struggle against the people.
… a convention of this kind was historic in the capital city of this hollow superpower that is India… The British colonial empire too once considered Indians to be unfit for self-rule. The same argument is being used today by the powers-that-be to deny azadi to Kashmir. It is the same Indian ruling class which once preached non-alignment, but is now bowing before US imperialism and the MNCs [Multi-National Corporations]. We need to continue this exercise of debate, and at the same time be aware that we are up against a serious adversary. We must realize that the bows and arrows in the hands of the adivasis or stones of the Kashmiris alone are not enough. We need to make serious and meaningful alliances. There has to be an alliance between all the struggling people and what will connect them will be the idea of justice. We need to be aware of the fact that not every movement or slogan is for justice.
…many of the stories of atrocities on [Kashmiri Hindu] pundits have been concocted to sow misunderstanding and distrust among people, though what happened to some of them is tragic and unfortunate. Justice is to be fought and upheld for everybody, whether a minority of religion, caste, or nationality. It is not enough to ask for justice if the next person does not have it. People in Kashmir have said that Kashmiri pundits are welcome back, and this is a commendable gesture.
Arundhati acknowledged the resistance of “young people, women, children who are out on the streets facing the brutal Indian army” and crucially mentioned that:
the first great art which the Indian state has mastered is to wait and wait and hope that people’s energies will go down. Killing them is the next. It is up to the people of Kashmir to take their struggle further in solidarity with other people’s movements. At the same time, the people in Nagaland must reflect on themselves why is it that a Naga Battalion is sent to kill people in Kashmir and Chhattisgarh. A direct confrontation with the state is not enough. It is necessary to know one’s enemy and make alliances locally, as well as internationally.
(Please find complete minutes of the seminar here.)