Page 14 of 41
15. Arundhati Roy, awardee, the Sydney ´Peace' Prize advocating violence
When every avenue of non-violent dissent is closed down, and everyone who protests against the violation of their human rights is called a terrorist, should we really be surprised if vast parts of the country are overrun by those who believe in armed struggle and are more or less beyond the control of the state: in Kashmir, the north-eastern provinces, large parts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Andhra Pradesh. Thus spake Arundhati Roy, the defender of ´peace´. Then, from the ruins of Afghanistan, from the rubble of Iraq and Chechnya, from the streets of occupied Palestine and the mountains of Kashmir, from the hills and plains of Colombia and the forests of Andhra Pradesh and Assam comes the chilling reply: ´There´s no alternative but terrorism.´ Terrorism. Armed struggle. Insurgency. Call it what you want.
Terrorism is vicious , ugly , and dehumanising for its perpetrators, as well as its victims. But so is war. You could say that terrorism is the privatisation of war. Terrorists are the free marketers of war. They are people who don´t believe that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. (Democracy Now! 24 August, 2004)
That the history of oppressed and vanquished people remains for the large part unchronicled is a truism that does not apply only to Savarna Hindus. If the politics of avenging historical wrong is our chosen path, then surely the Dalits and Adivasis of India have the right to murder , arson and wanton destruction?
When victims refuse to be victims, they are called terrorists and are dealt with as such. POTA is the broad-spectrum antibiotic for the disease of dissent. So how can ordinary people counter the assault of an increasingly violent state?
The space for non-violent civil disobedience has atrophied. After struggling for several years, several non-violent peoples´ resistance movements have come up against a wall and feel quite rightly, they have to now change direction. Views about what that direction should be are deeply polarised. There are some who believe that an armed struggle is the only avenue left. Others increasingly are beginning to feel they must participate in electoral politics — enter the system, negotiate from within. [Similar is it not, to the choices people faced in Kashmir?] (This is based on the first I.G. Khan Memorial Lecture delivered at Aligarh Muslim University on April 6, 2004 titled ´Kashmir: How deep shall we dig´)
I have stated earlier that the lady speaks for effect and on this occasion she was addressing the students and the teaching faculty of the Aligarh Muslim University (from now ´AMU Talk´). She has chosen the topic , the language and the metaphors appropriate for a predominantly Muslim audience.