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BackYou are here: NewsIndia Reactionary mob attacks Arundhati Roy's house

India

Reactionary mob attacks Arundhati Roy's house

Neha Alawadhi, The Hindu, Nov 1, 2010

NEW DELHI: A large group of BJP Mahila Morcha activists protesting Arundhati Roy’s recent remarks on Kashmir broke into the compound of the writer’s residence here on Sunday.

The mob assembled outside Ms. Roy’s house in the high-security diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri around 11 a.m. and shouted slogans against her for more than half an hour. “Curiously, three news channel vans were stationed outside our house even before the protest began…the mob was abusive and broke through the front gate of the house,” Ms. Roy’s husband, Pradip Krishen, said.

Ms. Roy was not in the house at the time of the attack. In a statement, she said the mob numbered as many as a hundred persons. The activists broke a few flower pots kept outside the house and dispersed before the arrival of the police. They were prevented from entering the house by the guard and servants.

Mr. Krishen later lodged a complaint at the Chanakyapuri police station, following which police personnel were deployed outside the residence. He said this was the second such attack at their Kautilya Marg residence since June 2010, when some men on motorbikes pelted stones and smashed some windows.

Though Mr. Krishen had no idea about the identity of the protesters, he suspects that they were supported by a section of the Sangh Parivar “who have already declared their intention to harm and harass Arundhati Roy.”

Meanwhile, Shika Roy, Delhi unit president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, who led the protest, said: “The protest was organised against Arundhati Roy’s remarks on azadi for Kashmir. We chose to protest on Sunday as it happens to be the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhai Patel who united the whole country.”

The police have registered a case and are investigating.

Something for the media to think about

This is the text of the statement issued by writer Arundhati Roy:

A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing).

After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.

What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the ‘scene’ in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime?

This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir.

So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers. The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly announced that they are going to “fix” me with all the means at their disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to which they are capable of going.

So, while the Government is showing a degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice? I can understand that the BJP’s Mahila Morcha is using me to distract attention from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured. But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or is it a question of ideological alignment?