Police may book Arundhati for comments on Gandhi

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2014 17:52 IST

Kerala police may book Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy for criticising Mahatma Gandhi for his "casteist tendencies”, officials said on Saturday.

Roy made the comments while delivering the Mahatma Ayyankali lecture at an international seminar organised by the Mahatma Ayyankali chair at University of Kerala's department of history in Thiruvananthapuram two weeks ago.

She also called for institutions bearing the Mahatma’s name to be renamed.

The police have sought the video footage of her speech she delivered at the international seminar on Re-imagining struggles at the margins: A history of the unconquered and the oppressed on July 17.

"It seems prima facie there is a case. After watching the video footage we will decide what sections should be slapped," a senior police officer told the Hindustan Times.

Citing an essay written by the Mahatma - The Ideal Bhangi - in which he advises manual scavengers on how to convert urine and night soil into manure, Roy said it was a classic example of how he patronised 'Harijans' and helped reinforce the menacing caste system in the country.

She said “Gandhiji always propagated casteist tendencies” and it was quite evident while comparing the services of other revolutionaries like Ayyankali.

Her comment triggered a row and the issue was raised in Parliament as well.

The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee also passed a resolution criticising her for denigrating the Mahatma.

Many Gandhians and activists had criticised the police for not registering a case against her.

Upset with her comments, activists of the Mahatma Gandhi National Foundation had sent copies of his autobiography My Experiments With Truth to Roy so that she could study his observations properly.

Roy is known for her controversial comments and has ruffled many a feathers with her statements in the past.

In 2010, she wrote an essay titled Walking with the Comrades calling the Maoists responsible for hundreds of massacres "Gandhians with guns".

In 2002, Roy had spent a day in jail for contempt of court. In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in Narmada Dam case, she had accused the apex court of endangering the freedom of speech by using the rule of contempt selectively to silence critics.

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