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18. Arundhati Roy on Narendra Modi and Praveen Togadiya
At the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January 2004, Arundhati Roy made tasteless remarks against Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat and Pravin Togadiya of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Arundhati Roy was addressing, let us remember, an international gathering of NGOs from different countries and she could pretend as though Hindu-Muslim riots were happening for the first time in India when they happened in Gujarat in 2002 and she could insinuate, like her other NGO activist friends and collaborators, that the riots happened only because Gujarat was ruled by the BJP and the BJP-led NDA was ruling at the centre.
Most nations have adequately hideous family secrets. So it isn´t often necessary for the media to lie. It´s what´s emphasised and what´s ignored. Say for example, India was chosen as the target for a righteous war. The fact that about 80,000 people have been killed in Kashmir since 1989, most of them Muslim, most of them by Indian Security Forces (making the average death toll about 6000 a year); the fact that less than a year ago, in March of 2003, more than two thousand Muslims were murdered on the streets of Gujarat, that women were gang- raped and children were burned alive and a 150,000 people driven from their homes while the police and administration watched, and sometimes actively participated; the fact that no one has been punished for these crimes and the Government that oversaw them was re-elected all of this would make perfect headlines in international newspapers in the run-up to war. Next we know, our cities will be leveled by cruise missiles, our villages fenced in with razor wire, US soldiers will patrol our streets and Narendra Modi, Pravin Togadia or any of our popular bigots could, like Saddam Hussein, be in US custody, having their hair checked for lice and the fillings in their teeth examined on prime-time TV. But as long as our ´markets´ are open, as long as corporations like Enron, Bechtel, Halliburton, Arthur Andersen are given a free hand, our ´democratically elected´ leaders can fearlessly blur the lines between democracy, majoritarianism and fascism. (´Do turkeys enjoy Thanksgiving´, talk delivered by Roy at the World Social Forum in Mumbai in January, 2004)
Going by the last line it is almost as if Arundhati Roy regrets that US economic interests in India did not permit it to invade and occupy India to arrest Modi and Togadiya after the Gujarat riots.
19. Arundhati Roy on Ramjanmabhumi
In Russia, they say the past is unpredictable. In India, from our recent experience with school history textbooks, we know how true that is. Now all ´pseudo-secularists´ have been reduced to hoping that archaeologists digging under the Babri Masjid wouldn´t find the ruins of a Ram temple. But even if it were true that there is a Hindu temple under every mosque in India, what was under the temple? Perhaps another Hindu temple to another god. Perhaps a Buddhist stupa. Most likely an Adivasi shrine . History didn ´t begin with Savarna Hinduism, did it? How deep shall we dig? How much should we overturn? (AMU Talk)
Oh, as deep shall we dig and as much will we overturn as the collective memory of Hindus goes, of course! If, as Arundhati is implying, there is Indian history prior to Hindu history or prior to ´Savarna Hinduism´ as she puts it with contrived originality, she must write to document it. Hindus who pulled down the Babri ´masjid´ can prove that there is a Hindu shrine beneath the mosque but can Arundhati Roy prove that there are other temples and shrines beneath that? Then she certainly should do that instead of letting fly trial balloons to a captive Muslim audience. Arundhati has been encouraged to fling mud, aspersions and falsehoods unchallenged and with impunity because , after Amartya Sen, she is the beneficiary of a mindless, panegyrist media which wallows in her self-conscious pretensions.