Does Criticizing India Count as Sedition? Arundhati Roy Will Find Out

Does Criticizing India Count as Sedition? Arundhati Roy Will Find Out (11/30/10)

“Mr. Pandit, who belongs to a minority Hindu community, has accused Ms. Roy of committing sedition for saying that Kashmir was not an integral part of India, and said the country should set a tough example by punishing those ‘who instigate communal passions in the name of Kashmir.’

Many Kashmiri Hindus were forced to flee Muslim-majority Kashmir after an insurgency against Indian rule flared up in 1989 and the region has also been a cause for ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan.

Ms. Roy could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday. But last month, when talk of a possible sedition charge first began, she said in a statement from Kashmir, ‘I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice.'”

“If convicted, a person can face punishment of up to life in prison.”

see also, Arundhati Roy faces arrest over Kashmir remark (10/26/10)

18 thoughts on “Does Criticizing India Count as Sedition? Arundhati Roy Will Find Out

  1. Pseudo intellectuals like Arundhati Roy think that they are experts on everthing from nuclear energy to the Kashmir problem – all on the basis of one unreadable novel which won a british prize?

    She needs to go to trial for sedition. Pity the max punishment is “life.” She deserves more than that for supporting islamofascists like Geelani.

  2. Rather than calling people names, why not provide reasons or arguments to support your views on these matters so that people can better understand what you think, why you think what you think, and what reasons they have to agree or disagree with you?

    For one recent report (that does not seem entirely neutral), see:

    Shaking the mountains

    “India’s response to an uprising in Kashmir has been, by turns, repressive and complacent. It is storing up trouble for the future”

    Try to think about the sources of unrest/protest/uprising, and the reasons behind the need for repression…

    Never expected a fair verdict: Arundhati Roy

    Read the reports/news stories above, including the initial post, for a sense of the context of the remarks in this piece/interview.

  3. It’s persecution, not prosecution: Ilina Sen

    “In an unprecedented ruling, the Raipur sessions court on Dec 24 sentenced noted activist Dr Binayak Sen to life imprisonment for sedition and alleged Naxal links. A travesty of justice is how leading human rights activists and even Nobel laureates have greeted the verdict which held Dr Sen guilty of sedition.” …

    DREAD OF DEMOCRACY – India, in 2010, is a nation where the mind cannot be fearless

    … “A similar violation of democratic rights occurred when the writer, Arundhati Roy, was charged with sedition under Section 124(A) of the Indian Penal Code. She is supposed to have voiced “anti-India” sentiments. There can be little doubt that many find the views of Ms Roy distasteful and perplexing. But surely, if India is a democracy, she should have the full right to express her views, however inimical those views might be to the Indian State. What is problematic is the very idea of “anti-India” sentiments. What are pro-India sentiments? Only those views and feelings approved of by the Indian State? A democracy, by definition, must have room for dissent, for argument and for difference. Dissent is part of the Indian intellectual tradition. The statement of the Union law minister that freedom of speech “cannot violate patriotic sentiments” makes a mockery of democracy and of one of the most important rights in a democracy — of free speech.

    “Why should any individual in a democracy voice only patriotic sentiments? The law minister is obviously unaware that the tomtoming of patriotism has menacing associations with the history of fascism and can be used to obliterate difference and argument. “Democracy,” as Amartya Sen has written, “has to be judged not just by the institutions that formally exist but by the extent to which different voices from diverse sections of the people can actually be heard.’’ The charge of sedition denies Ms Roy the right to hold and express certain views. It is a profoundly disturbing and dangerous precedent. Even if the Indian State dislikes what Ms Roy says and believes in, it must allow her the space and the right to express her views. This is what Voltaire said was at the heart of democracy. India failed that litmus test in 2010.” …

  4. Indian justice: punishment by trial?

    High-profile human rights activist gets life for treason, exposing cracks in justice system.

    “Consider the following scenario: A much-admired man points out gross human rights violations committed against tribal peoples — including alleged rapes, murders, etc. But the state consistently seeks to cover up the incidents this man exposes, and instead uses a colonial-era law against free speech to sentence him to life in prison.” …

  5. Suppressing free speech

    A life term for Indian civil rights activist Binayak Sen, under a law used by the British against Gandhi, has provoked widespread condemnation

    Guilty by suspicion

    Freed Indian rebel leader invites peace dialogue

    What’s your stand on Dr Binayak Sen?

  6. Fighting for Binayak: mother’s cry for justice

    The fight to get justice for jailed Dr Binayak Sen is now being taken up by his 84-year-old mother, who has made it her aim to free her son.

    Anusuya sen has found a new purpose in life – to free her jailed son Dr Binayak Sen. Sen has been given a life term for sedition.

    Though teary eyed, Anusuya Sen knows she must fight on without fear.

    Sedition scam

    “…Binayak Sen is not the only one on whom the Indian state recently demonstrated its toughness. Arundhati Roy and Hurriyat leader S A S Geelani both have had charges of sedition slapped on them for espousing the cause of Kashmiri azadi. The Indian state – which appears to have a 100% tolerance for scams and swindles of various kinds – has zero tolerance for sedition. As interpreted by the state, sedition seems to mean not just any attempt to overthrow it but to in any way show sympathy with those who question or rebel against the legitimacy of its actions…”

    India needs a law on sedition

    Anyone familiar with the lore of India’s freedom struggle would be aware of the British misuse of the law pertaining to sedition. Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi were tried under this law (section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, or IPC)…

    … Today many Indians feel the human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen has been judged according to standards that are not very different from those of a court in British India. There have been calls to repeal section 124A…

    Jailed doctor tests Indian tolerance

    For more than two decades Binayak Sen, a paediatrician, served the neglected tribal population of India’s remote central heartland, providing medical care and helping the mostly illiterate communities defend their civil and legal rights.

    Today the tribal belt to which he dedicated himself is the focus of a bitter battle between an armed Maoist insurgency – whose foot-soldiers are mostly tribal people fearing dispossession of their land – and security forces trying to crush the rebellion.

    Dr Sen has become the highest profile casualty of the conflict, convicted late last month of sedition and sentenced to life in prison in a criminal case that raises serious questions about India’s tolerance for dissent as it seeks to quell the rebellion, centred in Chhattisgarh….
    – (if the link above requires a subscription, a search for the news story title should give you temporary access)

  7. India: Repeal Sedition Law (from Human Rights Watch)

    Prosecutions Used to Silence Political Dissent

    “The Indian parliament should immediately repeal the colonial-era sedition law, which local authorities are using to silence peaceful political dissent, Human Rights Watch said today. The Indian government should drop sedition cases against prominent activists such as Dr. Binayak Sen, Arundhati Roy, and others, Human Rights Watch said…”

  8. Indian cartoonist arrested on sedition charges after criticizing government corruption

    ” India police have arrested a political cartoonist on sedition charges after his drawings criticizing government corruption irked the ruling Congress party…”

    Police had no grounds to arrest cartoonist Aseem Trivedi: Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil

    “… ‘If telling the truth makes me [a] traitor then I am one… if I am booked under sedition for doing service to the nation then I will continue to do so.’…”

    Sedition: does it have any place in modern India? [pertinent info here – is it accurate?]

    India Against Corruption (IAC) Statement on Aseem Trivedi issue

    Cartoons Against Corruption‎ [what’s up with/what about the “Gang Rape of Mother India”?]

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