Indian author and human rights activist Arundhati Roy is facing social media ire for claiming that “the Pakistani military was never used against its own people”. According to her, the “Indian state” has repeatedly done so, in a video that is circulating online.
As the video featuring the Booker prize-winning novelist spread online, hashtag #ArundhatiRoy trended on Twitter in India and netizens expressed their dismay at her comments.
Tarek Fatah, a Canadian journalist who is known to be a strong critic of Pakistan and its military, and repeatedly expresses such views online, took to Twitter to share the video and wrote: “[She said] Pakistan has never deployed its military against its own people. Was she blind and deaf when 3M [million] died in the Bangladesh genocide by Pakistan Army in 1971? Is she unaware of #Balochistan? She’s literally reading off a Pakistan ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan] briefing note.’’
Many Indians agreed with Fatah’s views and strongly condemned Roy’s comments.
Twitter user @TheBharatGuy called her a ‘pseudo intellectual’ and wrote: “At the time when Pakistan is building at #UNSC for Kashmir, #ArundhatiRoy sold her soul long back just to stay in the limelight. India receives more threat from these pseudo intellectuals than the enemies at the border. #ArundhatiRoy”
Similarly, Twitter user @TheJaggi posted: “Something seriously wrong with Arundhati Roy that she can speak lies so confidently without fear of challenge. And why are journalists who listen to such rubbish not questioning her claims?”
Tweep @MujMash quoted the video and wrote: “Seriously, Arundhati Roy? That’s just an inaccurate reading of the history of Pakistan to this day - from East Pakistan, to Balochistan, to Pashtun areas today...”
A few Pakistanis also disagreed with Roy’s comments and appreciated those who have “no double standards” when assessing the state they belong to. Pakistani lawyer and write, Ayesha Ijaz Khan, @ayeshaijazkhan, tweeted: “I respect Arundhati Roy immensely for mincing no words in her criticism of the Indian state and its human rights violations. And I also respect Pakistani voices who are critical of human rights violations carried out by the Pakistani state. I don’t have double standards.”
The video begins with Roy claiming that since India’s inception, the country’s military has been in war with tribal people in Kashmir and state of Telangana, Sikhs in Punjab, Christians in Goa and Muslims in Kashmir and Hyderabad.
“India deployed its military against its own people,” she said. Comparing the situation to Pakistan, she added, “The state of Pakistan has never deployed its army against its own people the way the democratic Indian state has.”
While Indians denounced her comments, some Pakistanis coincided with her views. Twitter user @imMAK02 wrote: “Arundhati Roy is the speaking truth, Indian State has always targeted tribals, Muslims, Sikhs etc. Tribals in Chhattisgarh and North East, Muslims in Kashmir and Sikhs in Punjab has faced atrocities committed by state.”
Roy has long been seen as a controversial figure in India for voicing sensitive political views. She has long maintained the opinion that Kashmir needs to separated from India.
Also, according to a report by The Hindu, an Indian daily newspaper, in 2013 she described Narendra Modi’s nomination as the Indian prime minister a “tragedy”.