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Amitav Ghosh to Hari Kunzru, writers who have spoken up against UAPA charge on Arundhati Roy

International chorus grows about ‘the hounding’ of the writer and activist who faces criminal charges for speech on Kashmir

Our Web Desk Published 18.06.24, 01:00 PM

Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena last week granted sanction to prosecute writer Arundhati Roy and Kashmiri academic Sheikh Showkat Hussain under the Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on Friday, for remarks made at a seminar in New Delhi in 2010. The Booker Prize winning author had stated that the region of Kashmir had never been an “integral part of India,” a speech which purportedly “jeopardised public peace and security,” as claimed by Sushil Pandit, the person who filed the complaint against Roy. 

Here are some writers who have voiced support for Arundhati Roy. 

Meena Kandaswamy 

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Meena Kandasamy, poet, writer, and activist known for her work addressing caste discrimination, gender violence, and social justice issues, expressed her support for Arundhati Roy by tweeting: “Sharing this piece I wrote in October. I really, really hope the international backlash to such a hounding of someone so cherished and celebrated like Arundhati Roy makes the Modi regime walk back.” In an article in the ‘The Guardian’ last year, Kandaswamy detailed the threat to free speech in India. About Arundhati Roy, Kandaswamy wrote: “Unaffiliated to any political organisation, unafraid when the riot act is read to her, unflinching in her criticism of the corporate cronyism that underwrites the hate-mongering Hindutva political programme – Roy embodies an opposition to everything the BJP stands for.”

Amitav Ghosh

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Acclaimed writer Amitav Ghosh, known for his historical fiction and novels that explore the impact of colonialism and climate change, replied to Kandaswamy’s tweet voicing his support for Roy: “The hounding of Arundhati Roy is absolutely unconscionable. She is a great writer and has a right to her opinion. There needs to be an international outcry about the case that has been brought against her for something she said a decade ago.”

Hari Kunzru

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British-Indian author Hari Kunzru took to X to take a stand against Roy’s prosecution. Kunzru, known for his novels exploring themes of identity, displacement, and modern culture, with notable works including ‘The Impressionist’ and ‘Gods Without Men,’ posted: “Solidarity with Arundhati Roy. M*di has been out to get her since the days when she spoke out about his complicity in the 2002 Gujarat riots. She once told me a terrifying story about having to escape via the roof of an Ahmedabad guesthouse when police came to question her.”

Alpa Shah

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Alpa Shah, British social anthropologist and author, announced her support for Roy by tweeting: “I condemn permission granted to Indian police to prosecute Arundhati Roy under the anti-terror law, UAPA, used to jail those who dissent without trial for years.” Shah, known for her research on indigenous communities, labour, and Naxalite movements in India, with notable works including ‘Nightmarch: Among India's Revolutionary Guerrillas’, added: “Time for a sobering reality check! Targeting Arundhati Roy under anti-terror laws: a sign that repression of dissent gets worse in India. Much to celebrate in the election result, but things may get worse before they get better.” 

Shah’s piece in the New Statesman – headlined ‘Will Arundhati Roy be arrested?’ – details concerns over the government suppression of dissent despite electoral setbacks faced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party. “Targeting Arundhati Roy seems to be a way for [the prime minister] both to show his critics that no one is safe, and to reassure his supporters that he remains stronger than ever,” Shah writes.

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