India takes calm approach to Arundhati Roy’s Kashmir remarks
After initial signs that India’s government might move to censure controversial remarks by novelist and activist Arundhati Roy, it appears New Delhi has sidestepped a potential political minefield with U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the country only a week away.
On Sunday, Roy told a conference in New Delhi that Kashmir has “never been an integral part of India”, sparking a strong backlash.
Opposition politicians called for “the strongest possible action” against her “seditious” remarks and Law Minister Veerappa Moily declared the comments “most unfortunate”.
Responding to the charges against her, Roy countered: “Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds.”
With its recent election to the United Nations Security Council with a view to making it permanent and Obama’s arrival next Saturday, India appears to have concluded — as influential Indian newspaper The Hindu wrote on Tuesday — that the media furore over Roy’s remarks is “essentially much ado about nothing”.
Indeed, after winning the 1997 Booker Prize for The God of Small Things, Roy has become a serial controversy-inciter. Whether it’s stirring the ire of India’s nationalist right with an over-zealous defence of the insurgent left, or standing shoulder-to-shoulder with displaced residents in criticism of the industrialist central government, stirring debate is her current raison d’être.
India appears to have treated her remarks as such.