Tuesday, October 26, 2010



Has Arundhati Roy, the well-known writer and social activist, committed the offence of sedition against the Indian State by her recent speeches and statements which have expressed sympathy and understanding for the separatist movement in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) ?

2. One of the important components of the offence of sedition is causing disaffection against the State. It is a fact that there is disaffection against the Indian State in some sections of the Muslim population of J&K for nearly four decades. It is this disaffection that led to the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore in 1971, to the kidnapping and murder of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham UK in 1983 and to many acts of terrorism in J &K since 1989----directed against the security forces as well as innocent civilians.

3. The indigenous separatist groups in J&K indulged in not only sedition and terrorism against the Indian State, but also treason by seeking the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for their movement involving sedition and terrorism.

4. Wikipedia says as follows on sedition and treason: “Sedition is the stirring up of rebellion against the government in power. Treason is the violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or state, giving aid to enemies, or levying war against one's state. Sedition is encouraging one's fellow citizens to rebel against their state, whereas treason is actually betraying one's country by aiding and abetting another state.”

5.Arundhati Roy is not the originator or instigator of the acts of sedition, treason and terrorism indulged in by some elements in J&K. What she has done is to take note of the disaffection against the Indian State in J & K, draw the attention of the rest of India to the disaffection, analyse the causes for the disaffection such as alleged human rights violations and express her understanding and sympathy for those in J&K who have taken to arms against the Indian State.

6. The case against her from the point of view of sedition is a difficult one to decide. She is not one of the originators of the separatist movement. She is not an active participant in the movement. At the same time, by expressing her sympathy and understanding of the movement and its objective of freedom she has given moral support to the movement.

7. Should a person, who extends moral support to a movement involving sedition, treason and terrorism, be treated as an active participant or at least instigator of the movement and arrested and prosecuted under the laws relating to sedition?

8. It needs to be underlined that she has not tried to cause or spread disaffection against the State among the non-Kashmiri segments of the Indian population unless one treats her support to the Maoists as amounting to causing disaffection against the State among the tribals.

9.Should someone, who takes cognisance of the movement in J&K without having been one of the organisers of it and calls for action to address the causes of the movement, be treated on par with someone who is among the dramatis personae of the movement?

10. Acting against people like Arundhati Roy, who take what they look upon as a moral stand on such issues on the ground that their perceived moral stand adds to the existing disaffection against the State, would prove counter-productive and add to the difficulties already being faced by us in dealing with the situation in the State.

11. Her campaign against the State, however provocative, should be handled through counter-arguments which would carry conviction to public opinion in J&K and outside and not by arresting and prosecuting her.

12. We should avoid ham-handed action. ( 26-10-10)

(The writer is Additional Secretary ( retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and , presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )



After having failed thus far to pacify protesting Tibetan students in the Qinghai province who are angry over the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction in the Tibetan schools, China’s Ministry of Public Security has started identifying and arresting the leaders of the protest movement.

2. What has alarmed the Chinese authorities is that the protest movement which started spontaneously is now showing signs of being co-ordinated through the Internet and text messages. Despite the arrests of about 30 Tibetan students in the Qinghai province, the protest movement continues to spread.

3. The latest protest demonstrations were reported on October 24,2010, from high schools in the Chentsa (in Chinese, Jianzha) county, in Qinghai's Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. For the first time, local Tibetan teachers, many of whom have been replaced by Han teachers because they cannot teach in Mandarin, joined the students in their demonstrations. Local monks also participated.

4. On October 25, police reinforcements were rushed to the affected areas from the Sichuan province and deployed outside all educational institutions. They have been directed not to allow any more demonstrations.

5. It has been reported by Tibetan exile sources that a group of elderly, retired, and respected Tibetans associated with education matters in Qinghai sent a letter to the provincial Department of Education on October 24 calling for an independent panel of education experts to study the language policy.

6. The letter reportedly said: "We would like to appeal to make sure that the issue of Tibetan language may not be used as a political tool to undermine the harmonious relationship among the nationalities and compromise the security of China. The illegal practice of imparting education to Tibetan students by using only the Chinese language should be stopped.”

7.The letter called for a "deep, healthy relationship between Chinese and Tibetans" and sought respect for and implementation of "the charter of autonomy for minorities and the Constitution of China."

8. Separately, about 300 teachers in Qinghai have sent a letter to the authorities appealing to stop the implementation of the introduction of Mandarin as the medium of instruction. The teachers pointed out that Article 4 of the Chinese Constitution guarantees to all ethnic groups the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages and to preserve or reform their own culture and customs.

9. Radio Free Asia has quoted Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser as saying that she had heard that hundreds of Tibetan students had once more taken to the streets in Qinghai at the weekend. She said: "I know about [Saturday's] protest. It's not that they are against being taught Mandarin; Mandarin is the main language now. But they are against Tibetan being relegated to second-class status. Perhaps fewer and fewer people in future will speak Tibetan. So the students want to come out in support of Tibetan, and of more rights for the Tibetan language. The campaign in support of the Tibetan language is similar to that mounted in the southern province of Guangdong in support of Cantonese. It would be unfair of the Government to take reprisals against any students because of their involvement in these demonstrations.”

10. In his first comments on the students’ unrest over the language policy, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is now on a visit to Canada, said on October 23 that the Tibetan language is vital for the survival of Tibetan Buddhist culture which has a strong following in China . He asked China to learn from the Indian experience where preservation and promotion of India’s linguistic diversity is being done without that being seen as posing the risk of separatism.

11. To love and cherish one’s mother tongue is not separatism or splittism. This is the message that the protesting Tibetan students are spreading across the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. They are not against Mandarin as a language, but they are against Mandarin being imposed by the State to replace Tibetan as the unifying language of the Tibetan people. The new language policy is one more step taken by the Government and the Communist Party of China in the Han colonization of the Tibetan areas. (26-10-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )