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Freedom from each other

August 23, 2008

Arundhati Roy on the freedom struggle in Kashmir:

To expect matters to end there was of course absurd. Hadn’t anybody noticed that in Kashmir even minor protests about civic issues like water and electricity inevitably turned into demands for azadi? To threaten them with mass starvation amounted to committing political suicide.

Not surprisingly, the voice that the Government of India has tried so hard to silence in Kashmir has massed into a deafening roar. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed people have come out to reclaim their cities, their streets and mohallas. They have simply overwhelmed the heavily armed security forces by their sheer numbers, and with a remarkable display of raw courage.

Raised in a playground of army camps, checkposts and bunkers, with screams from torture chambers for a soundtrack, the young generation has suddenly discovered the power of mass protest, and above all, the dignity of being able to straighten their shoulders and speak for themselves, represent themselves. For them it is nothing short of an epiphany. They’re in full flow, not even the fear of death seems to hold them back.

And once that fear has gone, of what use is the largest or second-largest army in the world? What threat does it hold? Who should know that better than the people of India who won their independence in the way that they did? [Outlook]

One Comment leave one →
  1. Shankar Gopalakrishnan permalink
    August 24, 2008 7:11 PM

    While this article is great for those of us who agree, I don’t think that Arundhati Roy achieves much by these articles – which fail entirely to target any audience other than those already ‘converted.’ In a mainstream outlet targeted at the intensely callous and reactionary urban elite, there should be some effort to address the claims and lies of the right wing with data and information, rather than opening wtih rhetorical statements that an average Outlook reader would dismiss as nonsense (true as those statements are). Such writing faciltiates the reader switching off in the beginning or remaining unconvinced, since the “mainstream” understanding has essentially been ignored rather than countered. For the reactionaries, it’s a gift – they can say that Roy is both distant from “reality” and insulting her readers by treating the mainstream as deluded fools.

    The result is that Outlook gets to use her articles to prove its “liberal” character while in no way threatening either the belief system of its readers (most of whom almost certainly dismiss her writings) or its own “liberal” but essentially right wing bourgeois politics. I don’t in any sense mean to question the intention of her writing, but this simply doesn’t seem strategic, and seems a failure to target one’s audience.

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