Kashmiris should be independent, not caged: Arundhati Roy

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

During the two-month clampdown by the Indian government, every single native of Jammu and Kashmir “who has a voice at all” has been put behind bars, lamented famed Indian novelist and social activist Arundhati Roy.

“Every single person who has a voice at all has been arrested. And that, as you say, includes all the former chief ministers, people who have been carrying India’s water for the last 70 years. Everybody is in jail,” Roy told the U.S.-based website The Intercept, speaking of the Jammu and Kashmir region, whose special status was revoked on Aug. 5 as thousands of Indian troops were deployed, and a communications blackout imposed.

“Anybody who has a voice is in jail. Anybody who dares to speak up is being picked up, anybody on the street, you know, and of course, internationally,” said Roy, a Booker Prize-winning novelist.

In an interview, she asked why the fate of Kashmiris is being debated without a single voice from the region.

Mentioning leaders such as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump, she asked: “Why are they negotiating the fate of 7 million people who have been caged?”

She said Kashmiris want the right to self-determination “to be independent, to be in charge of their own destiny, the stewards of their own land and their culture.”

She added: “It’s not an impossibility. Why should it be?”

Asked about claims by the Indian government that “normalcy” has been restored to Kashmir, Roy said that “normal” seems to mean millions of people under a complete communication blackout.

Friday, Oct. 4, marks 61 days of the lockdown in Kashmir when India scrapped the special provisions granted to Jammu and Kashmir under the Indian Constitution.

India blocked communication and imposed strict restrictions to thwart any rebellion, while political leaders in the region have been detained, as rights groups urge New Delhi to lift the restrictions and release detainees.

Indian authorities have claimed 93% of Jammu and Kashmir is free of daytime restrictions, but Anadolu Agency has been unable to confirm this.

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