“Open the bloody gates”—Arundhati Roy on Kashmir
Arundhati Roy writes in the Guardian on the discovery of more mass unmarked graves in Kashmir and the supression of dissent by the Indian government. Foreign reporters who write about Kashmir are increasingly being deported, and Kashmiri journalists and activists face much more severe persecution:
David Barsamian is not the first person to be deported over the Indian government's sensitivities over Kashmir. Professor Richard Shapiro, an anthropologist from San Francisco, was deported from Delhi airport in November 2010 without being given any reason. It was probably a way of punishing his partner, Angana Chatterji, who is a co-convenor of the international peoples' tribunal on human rights and justice which first chronicled the existence of unmarked mass graves in Kashmir...
Kashmir is in the process of being isolated, cut off from the outside world by two concentric rings of border patrols - in Delhi as well as Srinagar - as though it's already a free country with its own visa regime. Within its borders of course, it's open season for the government and the army. The art of controlling Kashmiri journalists and ordinary people with a deadly combination of bribes, threats, blackmail and a whole spectrum of unutterable cruelty has evolved into a twisted art form.
While the government goes about trying to silence the living, the dead have begun to speak up. Perhaps it was insensitive of Barsamian to plan a trip to Kashmir just when the state human rights commission was finally shamed into officially acknowledging the existence of 2,700 unmarked graves from three districts in Kashmir. Reports of thousands of other graves are pouring in from other districts. Perhaps it is insensitive of the unmarked graves to embarrass the government of India just when India's record is due for review before the UN human rights council...
Eventually, here too the dead will begin to speak. And it will not just be dead human beings, it will be the dead land, dead rivers, dead mountains and dead creatures in dead forests that will insist on a hearing.
In this age of surveillance, internet policing and phone-tapping, as the clampdown on those who speak up becomes grimmer with every passing day, it's odd how India is becoming the dream destination of literary festivals. Many of these festivals are funded by the very corporations on whose behalf the police have unleashed their regime of terror...
The festive din of all this spurious freedom helps to muffle the sound of footsteps in airport corridors as the deported are frog-marched on to departing planes, to mute the click of handcuffs locking around strong, warm wrists and the cold metallic clang of prison doors.
Our lungs are gradually being depleted of oxygen. Perhaps it's time use whatever breath remains in our bodies to say: "Open the bloody gates."
Arundhati Roy and Angana P. Chatterji are both contributors to Kashmir: the Case for Freedom, which also includes writing by Tariq Ali, Pankaj Mishra and Hilal Bhat.
Visit the Guardian to read the full article.