JONATHAN CHAIT OCTOBER 31, 2010
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner]
The Indian writer Arundhati Roy, who is best known to Americans for her 1997 novel The God of Small Things, is a very controversial figure in her home country. She has criticized the government for undertaking disastrous development schemes and for submitting too easily to international capital. In recent years she has written increasingly nutty pieces on the country's violent Maoist insurgency. She has also rightly, if simplistically, commented on successive Indian governments' horrific policies in Kashmir. Even if you think Roy has become tiresome and intellectually dishonest (I reviewed her recent book for TNR here), the campaign against her in recent days has been disgraceful.
It began when Roy made the following statement: "Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted this." A senior official in the ruling Congress Party asked Roy to retract the comment. She refused. Then the government practically encouraged the police to charge Roy with sedition. Now a group of thugs from the BJP, the main opposition party, attacked Roy's house while she was away. It's almost as if major Indian political figures are intent on proving that Roy's most hyperbolic attacks on India's government and ruling class are correct.
The central issue remains India's abysmal conduct in Kashmir, which has recently experienced increasing levels of violence. Senseless attacks on a writer and activist will not make the problem go away.