Arundhati accuses TV of inciting mob
Social activists' group Sahmat (Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust) has condemned the 'attack' on author Arundhati Roy's residence by the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) women wing.
Roy, an award-winning author and activist, has accused Indian TV channels of whipping up protests against her.
About 100 female protesters from BJP, a Hindu nationalist party, surrounded her residence on Sunday to demonstrate against a speech last month in which she said Kashmir, the disputed Muslim-majority region, had "never been an integral part of India."
She was not at the house during the attack.
Roy said at least three television broadcasting vans were in place before the crowd arrived. The protesters "broke through the gate and vandalised property" as they chanted slogans against her, she said.
"Some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me," she said in a statement late Sunday.
The TV channels include NDTV, Times Now and News 24.
“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?” her statement read.
Sahmat, which has among its members social activists like Romila Thapar, KM Shrimali, DN Jha, KN Panikkar, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, MK Raina, Iqtidar Alam Khan, Shireen Moosvi and Irfan Habib, in an official statement also alleged that some news channels had prior intimation on the incident.
“The attack, by elements of the BJP Mahila Morcha on Oct 31, was reportedly carried out after an advance notice was given to three of India's leading English news channels which had their (broadcast) vans parked outside Roy's home,” theatre artist and social activist MK Raina said on behalf of Sahmat.
'We are shocked that the media engagement with this issue has stopped short of an unequivocal defence of free speech. The failure to defend the right to dissent will inevitably fuel vigilante attacks,” Raina said.
Police in Delhi said they were investigating the attack on Ms Roy's house located in the city's diplomatic quarter.
Meanwhile, Shika Roy, president of the local women's wing of the BJP and who led the protest, told reporters: “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.”
Arundhati Roy, winner of the 1997 Booker prize for her novel "The God of Small Things", is a fierce critic of India's tactics in Kashmir where protests against New Delhi have claimed more than 100 lives since June.
Her speech led to demands that she should be arrested for sedition, but police declined to press charges.
Kashmir has been beset by anti-India violence, curfews and strikes since early June, when a 17-year-old student was killed by a police tear-gas shell. Since then, a total of 111 protesters and bystanders have died.
A poll published last month showed that a majority in Indian Kashmir favoured independence for their region.
The once-independent kingdom has been fought over since 1947 when its Hindu ruler decided the Muslim majority state should join independent India, rather than the newly-created Pakistan.
An insurgency that gathered pace after India rigged elections in 1987, combined with an unrelenting response from the Indian authorities that has transformed Kashmir into one of the most militarised places on the planet, has led to the deaths of more than 70,000 people. Most Hindus were forced out or fled.
For many years, Pakistan provided weapons and training to many of the Kashmiri militants.