Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

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Arundhati Roy Under Attack, Canadian Activists Fight Back

Vancouver and Surrey social-justice activists protest contempt charge against Arundhati Roy

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Arundhati Roy has received a contempt citation for criticizing the arrest of a high-profile Indian human-rights activist. Vikramjit Kakati

The judicial persecution of a prominent Indian author and essayist has riled activists around Vancouver.

Many of them gathered in Surrey to protest a charge of contempt of court filed against Booker Prize-winning Delhi writer Arundhati Roy.

The demonstration included Chinmoy Banerjee, Parminder Swaich, Hardev Singh, Harbhajan Cheema, Harinder Mahil, Jai Birdi, and Avtar Gill, all of whom belong to different progressive groups in the Lower Mainland. Continue reading

What Attacks on GN Saibaba and Arundhati Roy Show About India

[The writer Mannish Sethi relates the court order to the arbitrary and malevolent character of law in India today.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Blind to justice

Why the December 23 order of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court — refusing Professor Saibaba bail and issuing a notice of contempt to Arundhati Roy — takes one’s breath away.

 

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Social activists staged a protest in Nagpur Thursday, demanding Saibaba’s release on bail. (Source: Express Photo)

 Law is no stranger to prejudice or moral anxieties. Judicial pronouncements can sometimes cast aside constitutional values and defer to societal biases masquerading as righteousness. The recurrence of “collective conscience” in terror cases, where the threat of terrorism looms so large that it can overshadow the lack of evidence, is only too well known. Even so, the December 23 order of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court takes one’s breath away. It rejected the regular bail plea moved by the lawyers of Delhi University professor, Saibaba, cancelled his interim bail which allowed him to receive treatment till December 31, and ordered him to surrender within 48 hours. Besides, the court issued a notice of criminal contempt to Arundhati Roy for her article, ‘Professor, POW’, published in Outlook magazine. The order will be remembered for its naked display of contempt for civil rights, partisanship and renunciation of judicial independence.

Wheelchair bound, Saibaba spent over a year in jail before the division bench of the Bombay High Court granted him interim bail on the plea of a social activist in June 2015. (Illustration by C R  Sasikumar)

Wheelchair bound, Saibaba spent over a year in jail before the division bench of the Bombay High Court granted him interim bail on the plea of a social activist in June 2015. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

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Indian Court Charges Arundhati Roy with Contempt of Court for Writing on Injustice

[Upon revoking the bail and medical release for yet-untried political prisoner Professor GN Saibaba, Bombay High Court Justice Arum Choudari, according to The Hindu newspaper, “issued a notice to writer Arundhati Roy on an intervention plea filed by advocate Bhandarkar , who had blamed Ms.Roy for ‘interference with the administration of justice’ for writing an article in the Outlook magazine in support of Prof.Saibaba.”  This move to suppress the writings of the prominent writer and activist Arundhati Roy further illuminates the repressive and fascist character of the undemocratic Indian state and judiciary.  Roy’s May 2015 Outlook article, “Professor, P.O.W.” which earned the court’s “contempt” notice, is reprinted here below.  —  Frontlines ed.]

Professor, P.O.W.

So afraid is the government of this paralysed wheelchair-bound academic that the Maharashtra police had to abduct him for arrest
May 9, 2015, marks one year since Dr G.N. Saibaba, lecturer of English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University, was abducted by unknown men on his way home from work. When her husband went missing and his cellphone did not respond, Vasantha, Dr Saibaba’s wife, filed a missing person’s complaint in the local police station. Subsequently the unknown men identified themselves as the Maharashtra Police and described the abduction as an arrest.

 

Why did they abduct him in this way when they could easily have arrested him formally, this professor who happens to be wheelchair-bound and paralysed from his waist downwards since he was five years old? There were two reasons: First, because they knew from their previous visits to his house that if they picked him up from his home on the Delhi University campus they would have to deal with a crowd of angry people—professors, activists and students who loved and admired Professor Saibaba not just because he was a dedicated teacher but also because of his fearless political worldview. Second, because abducting him made it look as though they, armed only with their wit and daring, had tracked down and captured a dangerous terrorist. The truth is more prosaic. Many of us had known for a long time that Professor Saibaba was likely to be arrested. It had been the subject of open discussion for months. Never in all those months, right up to the day of his abduction, did it ever occur to him or to anybody else that he should do anything else but face up to it fair and square. In fact, during that period, he put in extra hours and finished his PhD on the Politics of the Discipline of Indian English Writing. Why did we think he would be arrested? What was his crime? Continue reading

Professor, P.O.W.

Picture of an armed terrorist? Dr Saibaba outside his house 

So afraid is the government of this paralysed wheelchair-bound academic that the Maharashtra police had to abduct him for arrest

Arundhati Roy, Outlook India Magazine, week of May 18, 2015

May 9, 2015, marks one year since Dr G.N. Saibaba, lecturer of English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University, was abducted by unknown men on his way home from work. When her husband went missing and his cellphone did not respond, Vasantha, Dr Saibaba’s wife, filed a missing person’s complaint in the local police station. Subsequently the unknown men identified themselves as the Maharashtra Police and described the abduction as an arrest.

Why did they abduct him in this way when they could easily have arrested him formally, this professor who happens to be wheelchair-bound and paralysed from his waist downwards since he was five years old? There were two reasons: First, because they knew from their previous visits to his house that if they picked him up from his home on the Delhi University campus they would have to deal with a crowd of angry people—professors, activists and students who loved and admired Professor Saibaba not just because he was a dedicated teacher but also because of his fearless political worldview. Second, because abducting him made it look as though they, armed only with their wit and daring, had tracked down and captured a dangerous terrorist. The truth is more prosaic. Many of us had known for a long time that Professor Saibaba was likely to be arrested. It had been the subject of open discussion for months. Never in all those months, right up to the day of his abduction, did it ever occur to him or to anybody else that he should do anything else but face up to it fair and square. In fact, during that period, he put in extra hours and finished his PhD on the Politics of the Discipline of Indian English Writing. Why did we think he would be arrested? What was his crime?

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Arundhati Roy: The Debate on the Gandhi Myth

[In India, 2014 has brought many issues to the fore, not least of which is the rise of Narendra Modi as national leader, after securing his notoriety as the protector and defender of the anti-Moslem Gujarat Massacre over a decade ago.  Modi’s rise, welcomed by Western imperialism and multi-national corporations,  has brought further national centralization of the state’s brutal repression against oppressed peoples, tribals, dalits, democratic and revolutionary activists.  And the 2014 Modi-India persona  further disguises the official national culture —  Hindutva excluvist, caste-ist, and xenophobic — by hypocritically and pretentiously claiming a humanitarian, peaceful, and moral charm or charisma by further invoking a mythologized Gandhi as the Father of Indian National Identity.  In challenging this mythology, Arundhati Roy has provided an important counter-narrative, and has come under vitriolic attack from The Powers That Be.  See the following video interview by Laura Flanders, and the magazine interview by Leena Chandran, for details on the struggle for clarity and truth about Mahatma Gandhi.  —  Frontlines ed.]
Debunking the Gandhi Myth: Arundhati Roy
On The Laura Flanders Show: Author/activist Arundhati Roy on the Annihilation of Caste, B.R. Ambedkar and the Western myth of Mahatma Gandhi

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Hidden in plain sight

Wednesday 17 September 2014

by Leena Chandran, Manorama Online

In July, Arundhati Roy provoked outrage from many quarters by stating that the generally accepted image of Mahatma Gandhi was a lie. Speaking at the University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, she also called for institutions bearing his name to be renamed. The Booker prize winning author’s comments rekindled a long-running historical argument over Gandhi’s views on caste and catapulted hot debate in Kerala media. In this exclusive interview Arundhati Roy tells Leena Chandran why she will not be changing her views on Gandhi.
The Gandhi controversy is a belated one, I feel. It should have taken place earlier this year had people closely read ‘The Doctor and the Saint’ soon after its publication. In fact, what you said in the Ayyankali memorial lecture at Department of History, Kerala University, Thiruvananthapuram is not as inflammable as the ideas you share in’The Doctor and the Saint’…

I wouldn’t go so far as to call ‘The Doctor and the Saint’ inflammable, though of course it has generated a fair amount of controversy from many quarters, even some unexpected ones. That’s to be expected, because it’s vexed territory. Yes it does question conventional ways of thinking, mostly by quoting from the lesser known writings of Gandhi. It was written as an introduction to Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. Ambedkar’s views challenge the established order in profound and radical ways. The controversy around Gandhi’s views on race and caste started long before I wrote The Doctor and the Saint. You could say that it started with the Ambedkar-Gandhi debate. It has been debated for years in the world of Dalit politics—but that has been carefully and successfully kept out of the establishment discourse. The mayhem in the Kerala media post my Ayyankali Memorial Lecture is just noisy posturing by some people who couldn’t be bothered to read Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, or The Doctor and the Saint, or anything much else. Not even the works of Gandhi who they are so keen to defend. There are many vested interests involved in this debate. It may be too much to expect them to change. But the young will change their views. For sure.

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‘NGOisation of resistance’ by Arundhati Roy

The NGO-ization of resistance

Arundhati Roy

2014-09-23, Pambazuka.org, Issue 695

NGOs give the impression that they are filling the vacuum created by a retreating state. And they are, but their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche.

A hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-ization of resistance. It will be easy to twist what I’m about to say into an indictment of all NGOs. That would be a falsehood. In the murky waters of fake NGOs set up or to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges (in states like Bihar, they are given as dowry), of course, there are NGOs doing valuable work. But it’s important to consider the NGO phenomenon in a broader political context.

In India, for instance, the funded NGO boom began in the late 1980s and 1990s. It coincided with the opening of India’s markets to neoliberalism. At the time, the Indian state, in keeping with the requirements of structural adjustment, was withdrawing funding from rural development, agriculture, energy, transport and public health. As the state abdicated its traditional role, NGOs moved in to work in these very areas. The difference, of course, is that the funds available to them are a minuscule fraction of the actual cut in public spending.

Most large-funded NGOs are financed and patronized by aid and development agencies, which are, in turn, funded by Western governments, the World Bank, the UN and some multinational corporations. Though they may not be the very same agencies, they are certainly part of the same loose, political formation that oversees the neoliberal project and demands the slash in government spending in the first place.

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