Arundhati Roy: Is this a New Dawn for India?

May 15, 2004 | Comments Off on Arundhati Roy: Is this a New Dawn for India?

In an article reacting to the election victory of the Congress Party, writer and activist Arundhati Roy points to the human rights problems created and exacerbated by many Indian governments—center, state, Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP):

[W]e know that on every major issue besides overt Hindu nationalism (nuclear bombs, big dams and privatisation), the Congress and the BJP have no major ideological differences. We know the legacy of the Congress led us to the horror of the BJP. Still, we celebrate because surely a darkness has passed. Or has it?

Recently, a young friend was talking to me about Kashmir. About the morass of political venality, the brutality of the security forces, the inchoate edges of a society saturated in violence, where militants, police ,intelligence officers, government servants, businessmen and even journalists encounter each other, and gradually, over time, become each other. About having to live with the endless killing, the mounting “disappearances’”, the whispering, the fear, the rumours, the insane disconnection between what Kashmiris know is happening and what the rest of us are told is happening in Kashmir. He said: “Kashmir used to be a business. Now it’s a mental asylum.”

Roy discusses how governments whip up communal bigotry in order to justify assaults on human rights.  For example, the Congress Party reigned while systematic human rights abuses, such as torture and disappearances, were perpetrated by state security forces in Punjab, with the complicity of the majority population.  Roy also discusses the dangers of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA)—one example is that it now allows confessions extracted during police custody to be admitted as evidence.


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