Mr.Ashish Nandy, it’s not ‘some’ protestors,but Kashmir Hindus !04/11/2010 12:27:08 Dr.Vijaya Rajiva
In a shallow article in Outlookindia, Professor Ashish Nandy, well known sociologist,
commented on the public outcry and calls for the arrest of Syed Ali Shah Gilani and Arundhati Roy for their speeches at the infamous conference on Azadi on October 21,2010. Nandy disapproved of these calls in his article ‘The Great Indian Love Affair With Censorship’ (Outlookindia, Nov.08,2010). This is what he said:
“. . . . . we have made fools of ourselves in front of the whole world. All thisbecause some protestors demonstrated at the meeting that Arundhati and Gilani addressed.”
These ‘some’ protestors were Kashmir Hindus who had gone through the anguish and
suffering of the exodus from the Kashmir valley in 1989 after their community had undergone murder and mayhem at the hands of murderous thugs. At the conference table were Syed Ali Shah Gilani who is said to have instigated these same murderous thugs. Next to him were his camp followers which included Arundhati Roy. The conference was a call for Azadi for Kashmir.
Nandy was referring to the charge of sedition against this motley crew which was being
contemplated by the government of India but which was subsequently not enforced. His point was that the Indian public love censorship of dissent. The moot question is whether it was dissent or sedition. A writer in Times of India pointed out that “sedition involves an attempt to overthrow legally constituted government” (Alok Tiwari, ‘It’s called dissent, not sedition’ , Times of India, 27 October, 2010).
Clearly, Tiwari and such commentators notwithstanding, it was sedition. In the opinion of this writer,Roy was instigating the overthrow of the Indian state, the perennial object of her hatred. The reader can ascertain this by viewing the Youtube video of the speech
she made on the occasion and its transcript in Outlookindia. There is also on the same website a transcript of her 2008 article. There was a prima facie case for sedition and Roy’s argument that she was only pleading for justice is a weak one. The government of India decided not to arrest her because they rightly saw that they were only making a hero(to youngsters in Kashmir and other undiscerning individuals) out of an essentially ill informed person.
Senior journalist Swapan Das Gupta has pointed out that Roy was as usual looking for
publicity and arresting her would be playing straight into her hands(The Pioneer). Dr. Chandan Mitra (editor of The Pioneer) castigated journalist and editor of Outlookindia for giving free publicity to a fraudulent character by publishing all her articles. The present writer does not quite agree with that position for two reasons.
Outlookindia is not a charitable enterprise and has to take care of its daily mundane needs. It needs the maximum readership and an exotic writer like Roy would most likely be a draw for the general reader. Secondly, it is important for all to read her so that she may be exposed for being less than honest. Her writings abound with fabrications, exaggerations, misrepresentations etc. In and through her writings one can discern the agenda of the backers of this type of writing. It is not Roy herself who is important but those who wish to see India balkanized and an ancient great civilization disappear.
While ignoring her is a ready temptation, it is only postponing coming to grips with her agenda, the surface phenomenon of what makes her vulnerable to the hostile elements mentioned above.
Nandy, in his maudlin way, observed how he was moved and humbled by Roy’s defence
of herself after the news reached her that she might be arrested for sedition. He had
obviously not seen the video or read the transcript of her speech or the earlier 2008 article.
He says so himself : that he was not present at the conference itself. Some people told him !
The least he could have done was to view the video or read the transcript before holding
forth on the subject. One is led to believe that he was using the occasion merely to castigate the Indian middle classes for being nouveau riche and nationalistic at the same time. They love censorship of anything that goes against their chauvinistic nationalism,he says.
And so in one breath he manages to condemn the Indian middle class and the Hindu Nationalists because he believes (erroneously) that it is the middle class that is the social basis of Hindu nationalism. For a sociologist this is shoddy class analysis.
Old wealth presumably is the class basis of the settled middle class(his phrase) of which he is a member. And this settled middle class is liberal, tolerant etc. and embody the true values of India. It might be relevant to point out to Mr.Nandy that it is a member of his ‘ settled ‘liberal middle class, liberal historian Ramachandra Guha who wrote about the 1989 murder of the Kashmir Hindus in his book Indian After Gandhi (2007):“These women and men were not killed in the crossfire,accidentally, but brutally targeted. Many of the women were gang raped before they were killed.One woman was bisected by a mill saw. The bodies of the men bore marks of torture. Death by strangulation, hanging, amputations,the gouging of eyes, were not uncommon. Often their bodies were dumped with notes forbidding anyone – on pain of death- to touch them. “
(Indian After Gandhi, 2007, p.642)
Hence, the protestors at the Conference of the Gilanists, camp followers and Maoists in New Delhi were the relatives and family members and friends of those Kashmir Hindus who had been tortured and murdered by the Gilanists and their camp followers. They were not just ‘ some’ protestors.
During Roy’s speech she made a reference to the Kashmir Hindus and followed it up with the dishonest comment that there is an organization called Panun Kashmir which is spreading false rumours . . . . .
At this stage some of the protestors (and this can be clearly seen in the video) started to
protest loudly at her blatant lie. After a few minutes the noise subsided and Roy resumed her speech.
It was then that she made a short remark about the tragedy of the Kashmir Hindus. In an interview a few days later she claimed that she had always spoken about the plight of the Kashmir Hindus and added that it was the fault of the Indian government ! Passing references won’t do Ms.Roy and the use of the word ‘tragedy’ does not exempt you from mentioning who the perpetrators were and why you continue to sit on the dais with them.
The rhetoric of her speeches and writings are a smokescreen for her larger agenda, the
overthrow of the Indian state. The present writer has written previously about the reasons
for her seemingly ‘ideological’ position. It is in actuality the unfinished business of her hatred of India and for that she should be pitied. There are many activists in India who do excellent work on behalf of the disinherited of the earth, but they are not in the business of the overthrow of the Indian state.
The government of India was wise in its decision not to arrest her, in spite of the prima facie case for sedition. But certainly, the money trail should be watched. Mr. Nandy, on the other hand, is a different cup of tea. He certainly will not be guilty of sedition. Dissent yes, but not sedition. And his target is the nouveau riche middle class and the Hindu Nationalists. And given the antics of the present UPA government it might well be that the Nationalists will come to power in the next election. He is in a sense past his prime. At a recent appearance on
National television (NDTV) he mildly asked whether even the colonial British Government had ever arrested anyone for sedition. He seemed to have forgotten both Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak ! It should be pointed out in passing that Roy makes silly comparisons between the colonial state and the Indian state, thus inviting comparisons with the stalwarts of the Indian freedom struggle.
And indeed, some fatuous commentators have done just that !
Nandy does seem to have the habit of making careless generalizations such as his attacks on the Gujarat government and now his statement that it was ‘some’ protestors at the Delhi conference. This is the eternal problem with the so called secular thinkers in India : a mixing up of apples and oranges, the inveterate habits of sloppy thinking.
(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university)