Open Letter In India Calls For Withdrawal Of Approval To Prosecute Booker Prize-Winning Author Arundhati Roy 

Last week, the Indian government approved the prosecution of Booker prize-winning author Arundhati Roy under the country’s anti-terrorism law. In response, more than 200 Indian academics, activists, and journalists have published an open letter urging the government to withdraw the decision. 

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“We … deplore this action and appeal to the government and the democratic forces in the country to ensure that no infringement of the fundamental right to freely and fearlessly express views on any subject takes place in our nation,” the group said in the letter, according to the Guardian

Vinai Kumar Saxena, the lieutenant governor of Delhi, gave the approval for police to prosecute Roy last week for remarks she made at a seminar in 2010, claiming she violated an anti-terrorism law known as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Academic figure Sheikh Showkat Hussain was also called on to be prosecuted. 

Roy allegedly said that the disputed region of Kashmir was “never an integral part of India.”

“The Indian constitution upholds Roy’s right to the freedom of her opinions and we are a constitutional democracy,” said history professor Ajay Dandekar, further stating that the decision was unjustified. 

Protests from civil rights groups, activists, and students in both Delhi and Bengaluru have also taken place, calling for a reversal of this prosecution’s approval. 

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Roy has been a critic of Narendra Modi’s government, as well as previous governments, since reaching literary success in 1997. Her main perspective criticizes capitalism, how minorities are treated, globalization, and supports human rights cases. The recent decision to call for her prosecution has caused Indians to question the validity of the democracy they live in.

“Are we a democratic country or not? We signed the letter because we have to uphold our constitutional right to disagree with the government. We can’t let the government take revenge against critics like Roy out of some personal whim,” stated Mukta Manohar, the general secretary of the Pune municipality Safai union, according to the Guardian.  

“The police will have to explain the 14-year delay and also explain why she should be charged when her words have not resulted in any violence or criminal acts in all this time,” supreme court lawyer Sanjay Hegde said. 

The human rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves agreed that “the case, if the government goes ahead, could collapse at the first hurdle. It’s a crazy decision and they won’t be able to prove that Roy was linked to any violence or any efforts to overthrow the state. The prosecution is unlikely to succeed,” he said.