Whither Kashmir

Arundhati Roy speaking on 24 October, 2010 in Srinagar, Kashmir at a meeting organised by the Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society. The meeting was held just days after Arundhati Roy gave a speech in Delhi that led to her being accused of "sedition" for standing up for the rights of Kashmiris.

Arundhati Roy: Whither Kashmir, Srinagar - Part 1

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Arundhati Roy: Whither Kashmir, Srinagar - Part 2

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Arundhati Roy: Whither Kashmir, Srinagar - Part 3

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Whither Kashmir: Transcript of Arundhati Roy's speech in Srinagar, 24 October 2010

Just before I arrived into this hall this morning the Times Now people were outside pushing their mike into my face and saying: “Ma’am how do you feel about being charged with ‘sedation’”. I said I’m beginning to feel a little sleepy already!

I’ve never spoken in public in Kashmir before. It is one of the most difficult things for me to do. Because I don’t know from what place to speak. Because I’m a writer who has a very complicated past, even personally. And questions of identity, of ethnicity or what it means to be a woman in a very male dominated society, even in India, forget Kashmir. I’m looking for the sisters hello I can just see you! All these things are very complicated for me. And how do I begin this conversation? Because I have not come hear to lecture you about what you should do about fighting this occupation. I really have come hear to listen. I am not at all here to tell anyone what to do. I have been coming here for some years now to listen and try and understand. I am not at all here to tell anybody what to do.

Relax, Kashmir has never been an integral part of India.

Maybe to try and speak a little bit about the complexities of some easy things we fling around, you know. As a writer sometimes I flinch when words are used without precision. For example, we’ve all come to accept that the leaders of this struggle are called “separatists”. What does that mean? Two weeks ago I was in Ranchi and a journalist kept pushing his mic into my face and saying. “Ma’am do you believe Kashmir is an integral part of India yes or no?” Relax, Kashmir has never been an integral part of India! There is no need for you to keep asking me this aggressively. This is not something I have invented! This is not some radical position that I am taking. It is a historical fact. Even the Indian government has accepted it. So let’s not use aggression instead of intelligence or information.