Arundhati Roy
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Acclaimed Indian novelist Arundhati Roy has recently been subject to threats over a fake news story in this case over her alleged comments on Kashmir. Right wing online publications notorious for publishing false content have been publishing a story which claims that Arundhati Roy made anti-Indian statements regarding Kashmir and that she is a traitor.

The story in question was titled “70 lakh Indian Army cannot defeat Azadi gang in Kashmir: Arundhati Roy.”

Read More: India: Government running through tweets?

Reacting to this story, Indian actor and BJP MP Paresh Rawal tweeted “Instead of tying stone pelter on the Army jeep, tie Arundhati Roy.”

Arundhati Roy

This now infamous tweet has been deleted by Twitter. In this he referred to the infamous incident where the Kashmiri Farooq Ahmad Dar was tied to an army jeep being driven by Major Leetul Gogoi as a human shield against the stones the protestors were throwing at the Indian soldiers.

Indian officerParesh Rawal followed up this outburst with scathing insults directed at Roy.

His remarks sparked an intense twitter war between his supporters and those defending Roy.

His supporters added in their own venomous remarks

However, journalists and those supporting Roy condemned Rawal’s statements.

The origins of this fake news story can be traced back to an article published in Times of Islamabad, a Pakistani online publication. It was picked also picked up by Radio Pakistan.

Arundhati Roy is known for her criticism of Indian policy concerning Kashmir. Her 2010 comment that Kashmir was not “an integral part of India” drew the ire of a few in government who threatened to charge her with sedition.

She published an article in Outlook last year on the Burhan Wani upheaval in which she urged an end to violence in the state and called for dialogue for peace.

“While we denounce—as we must—the gunning down of unarmed protesters by the security forces, the attacks on ambulances and hospitals by policemen, and the blinding of teenagers with pellet guns, we have to keep in mind that the real debate cannot only be about the violation of human rights by Indian security forces in the Kashmir valley. Egregious though they are, those violations are the consequence—the inevitable and unavoidable consequence—of the militaristic suppression of a people’s struggle for freedom. Kashmiris are not fighting for the establishment of the rule of law or an end to human rights violations. They are fighting for azadi.

The fact is that Arundhati Roy gave no interview on Kashmir and did not even visit Srinagar any time in the recent past

Following Rawal’s tweets, the BJP distanced itself from his tweets. G.V.L. Narsimha Rao, spokesperson of the party said “Arundhati Roy has been known for anti-India propaganda over Kashmir as she is a compulsive attention seeker. Such people are best ignored rather than being commented upon.”

Read More: Indian disinformation becomes increasingly ridiculous

Communist Party of India leader and women’s rights activist Annie Raja voiced her support for Roy and expressed disgust over the Paresh Rawal’s insults

Arundhati Roy is known for her criticism of Indian policy concerning Kashmir. Her 2010 comment that Kashmir was not “an integral part of India” drew the ire of a few in government who threatened to charge her with sedition.

“I may not agree with what Arundhati Roy says but it is noteworthy how the BJP leaders so conveniently attack women who assert themselves, who have positions and opinions on political issues. One must ask Rawal, if he is so concerned about the army’s safety, he should offer himself to the army to be used as a human shield. Why should he suggest someone else’s name. Rawal’s tweet does not deserve a cultured response. It speaks about [his] depraved mind. A man using a woman’s name to get attention.”

While, in this case of fake news has been exposed, the bigger disappointment that needs to be addressed is India’s secular constitution is under extreme pressure with the election of the BJP. Indian constitution protects individuals against arbitrary use of authority against those who dissent and protects individuals life, liberty and dignity. The right to dissent is covered under Article 19 which is guaranteed to all citizens.  As a sitting member of Parliament, calls for her death or other such incitements are a violation of the law of the country. To safeguard the secular nature of the constitution the BJP needs to remove Paresh Rawal.

 

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