Having sent home the message that provocative speeches could land them in trouble, the Home Ministry has decided against registering a case against writer Arundhati Roy and hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s for their controversial speeches at a seminar in Delhi last week.
The decision to ignore the speeches was taken to avoid giving a handle to separatists in the Valley and civil liberties activists elsewhere, who were expected to rally around Roy, to support her freedom of expression.
Law Minister M Veerappa Moily had earlier advised against any hasty action when he told HT that he was disappointed with Roy's speech but the Centre would take decisions affecting the freedom to expression very cautiously.
The Home Ministry had asked Delhi Police to examine Roy and Geelani’s speeches to ascertain if they had violated any law after the BJP accused the government of looking the other way. Legal opinion obtained by Delhi Police indicated the speeches were seditious.
But the dominant political view within the government, and the Congress, was to let the provocative speeches pass at this stage. Government sources, however, indicated that the Jammu & Kashmir police was independently looking into speeches delivered by them in the state and the Centre’s decision would not impact their decision.
At the convention on 'Azadi--The Only Way', Geelani had shared the stage with writer Roy and pro-Maoist leader Vara Vara Rao among others. Geelani was heckled by the audience with one of them throwing a shoe at him.