Arundhati Roy: #Me Too Urban Naxal

“To be lynched is a crime. To be poor is a crime. To defend the poor is to plot to overthrow the government, the vulnerable are being cordoned off and silenced. The vociferous are being incarcerated.”

This diary’s title is from Roy’srecent statement at a press conference is featured both scroll.in and outlookindia.com (both Aug. 30, although the former is an easier to read format).  The hashtag’s origin:

‘#MeTooUrbanNaxal Goes Viral, Here’s Why’:outlookindia, Aug. 30, 2018  [non-urban Naxals are Maoist Communists, often being accused of rural agri-terrorism..)

“The hashtag was created in response to a tweet by film maker Vivek Agnihotri, also an author of a book called Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam, who had tweeted: “I want some bright young people to make a list of all those who are defending #UrbanNaxals Let’s see where it leads. If you want to volunteer with commitment, pl DM me. @squintneon would you like to take the lead?” Agnihotri tweeted.”

These are portions of the full text of Roy’s statement to the press in Dehli.

“This morning’s papers settle something that we have been debating for a while. A front-page report in the Indian Express says “Police to Court: Those held part of anti-fascist plot to overthrow govt.” We should know by now that we are up against a regime that its own police call fascist. In the India of today, to belong to a minority is a crime. To be murdered is a crime. To be lynched is a crime. To be poor is a crime. To defend the poor is to plot to overthrow the government.

When the Pune police conducted simultaneous raids at the homes of well-known activists, poets, lawyers and priests across the country, and arrested five people – high-profile civil rights defenders and two lawyers – on ludicrous charges, with little or no paperwork, the Government would have known that it was stirring up outrage. It would have already taken all our reactions into account, including this press conference and all the protests that have taken place across the country, before it made this move. So why has this happened?

Recent analyses of real voter data as well the Lokniti-CSDS-ABP Mood of the Nation survey have shown that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are losing popularity at an alarming pace (for them). This means that we are entering dangerous times. There will be ruthless and continuous attempts to divert attention from the reasons for this loss of popularity, and to fracture the growing solidarity of the opposition. It will be a continuous circus from now to the elections – arrests, assassinations, lynchings, bomb attacks, false flag attacks, riots, pogroms. We have learned to connect the season of elections with the onset of all kinds of violence. Divide and Rule, yes. But add to that – Divert and Rule. From now until the elections, we will not know from when, and where and how the fireball will fall on us, and what the nature of that fireball will be. So, before I speak about the arrests of lawyers and activists, let me just reiterate a few points that we must not allow our attention to stray from, even while it rains fire, and strange events befall us.

It has been a year and nine months since November 8, 2016 when Prime Minister Modi appeared on TV and announced his policy of demonetisation of 80% of the currency in circulation. His own Cabinet seemed to have been taken by surprise. Now the Reserve Bank of India has announced that 99% of the currency was returned to the banking system. The Guardian in the UK reports today, that the policy has likely wiped 1% from the country’s GDP and cost approximately 1.5 million jobs. Meanwhile, just the printing of new currency has cost the country several thousand crores. After Demonetisation, came the Goods and Services Tax – a tax that is structured in ways that have dealt a further body blow to small and medium businesses that were already reeling under Demonetisation.”

“While small businesses, traders and most of all the poor have suffered enormously, several corporations close to the BJP have multiplied their wealth several times over. Businessmen like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi have been permitted to decamp with thousands of crores of public money while the government looked away.

What kind of accountability can we expect for all of this? None? Zero?” [snip]

I’d followed some of the evolving/devolving news on this via my favorite tankie on Twitter, but I can’t find the sources now.  Many of you will undoubtedly remember a lot of it, but here’s a cheat sheet on Modi’s Cashless Society from zerohedge.com from Nov. 2016, including the opening paragraphs:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged the nation’s small traders and daily wage earners to embrace digital payment channels, as a cash crunch following the government’s surprise ban on high-value bank notes drags on.

Modi, speaking in his monthly address on national radio, said the government understands that millions have been affected by the ban on 500-rupee and 1000-rupees notes, but defended the action.

 “I want to tell my small merchant brothers and sisters, this is the chance for you to enter the digital world,” Modi said speaking in Hindi, urging them to use mobile banking applications and credit-card swipe machines.

 “It’s correct that a 100 percent cashless society is not possible. But why don’t we make a beginning for a less-cash society in India?,” Modi said. “We can gradually move from a less-cash society to a cashless society.”

 More than 90 percent of consumer purchases in India are transacted in cash, Credit Suisse estimates. While a smartphone boom and falling mobile data prices have led to a surge in digital payments in recent years, the base still remains low.

 Modi urged technology-savvy young people to spare some time teaching others how to use digital payment platforms.”

Techno-Utopia for the Underclass, see?  Lessons from Bill Gates: “See this African woman farmer in her field with a SmartPhone?  She can now check weather forecasts and market conditions for her crop.”.

Back to Roy who seems unsurprised that as it prepares for the 2019 elections, the BJP is the wealthiest party in India.  But oh, my: she writes that the recently introduced electoral bonds mean that contributions will be anonymous, thus all political parties’ wealth will be hidden.

IndiaCorpLaw parses electoral bonds at some length, perhaps even too even-handedly, imo.

“The investigation by the Karnataka police into the assassination of the journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh, has led several arrests which have in turn led to the unveiling of the activities of several right-wing Hindutva organisations like the Sanathan Sansthan. What has emerged is the existence of a shadowy, full-blown terror network, with hit-lists, hide-outs and safe-houses, flush with arms, ammunition and plans to bomb, kill, and poison people. How many of these groups do we know about? How many are continuing to work in secret? With the assurance that they have the blessings of the powerful, and possibly even the police, what plans do they have in store for us? What false-flag attacks? And what real ones? Where will they occur? Will it be in Kashmir? In Ayodhya? At the Kumbh Mela? How easily they could derail everything – everything – with some major, or even minor attacks that are amplified by pet media houses. To divert attention from this, the real threat, we have the hue and cry over the recent arrests.”

Arundhati is fiercely in favor of Kashmiri independence, and had earlier faced charges of sedition for saying so to the world.  For a primer, see ‘Modi and the Imperium: New Geopolitical BFFs’ toward the end of the diary, may the gods curse him and the lion he rode in on.


After writing of the horrific speed and corrupt ways in which educational institutions, including universities, are being dismantled, in favor of phantom schools and privatized Corporate Brahmanism, and the:

“Massive distress in the agricultural sector, increasing numbers of farmers’ suicides, the lynching of Muslims and the relentless attack on Dalits, the public floggings, the arrest of Chandrashekhar Azad, leader of the Bhim Army who dared to stand up to attacks by Upper castes. The attempt to dilute the Scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribes Atrocity Act.  [Dalits seem to be, or were, the untouchable class]

But here she gets the #UrbanNaxal territory:

“None of the five people who were arrested yesterday, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao and Gautam Navlakha – were present at the Elgar Parishad rally that took place on December 31, 2017, or at the rally the following day when approximately 3,00,000 people, mostly Dalit, gathered to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon victory.) The Elgar Parishad was organised by two eminent retired judges, Justice Sawant and Justice Kolse Patel. The rally the following day was attacked by Hindutva fanatics, which led to days of unrest. The two main accused are Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide. Both are still at large. Following an FIR registered by one of their supporters, in June 2018 the Pune police arrested five activists, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawle, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and the lawyer Surendra Gadling. They are accused of plotting violence at the rally and also of plotting to kill the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They remain in custody, charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Fortunately they are still alive, unlike Ishrat Jahan, Sohrabuddin and Kauser Bi, who, years ago, were accused of the same crime, but did not live to see a trial.”

“It has been important for governments, both the Congress-led UPA and the BJP to disguise their attacks on Adivasis, and now, in the case of the BJP, their attack on Dalits – as an attack on “Maoists” or “Naxals.” This is because, unlike in the case of Muslims who have been almost been erased from electoral arithmetic, all political parties do have an eye on those Adivasi and Dalit constituencies as potential vote banks. By arresting activists and calling them “Maoists’, the Government manages to undermine and insult Dalit aspiration by giving it another name—while at the same time appearing to be sensitive to “Dalit issues.” Today, as we speak, there are thousands of people in jail across the country, poor and disadvantaged people, fighting for their homes, for their lands, for their dignity—people accused of sedition and worse, languishing without trial in crowded prisons.”

For background, see for instance: ‘Assassination Plot, Home Ministry to Tighten Modi’s Security’, timesofindia.com, June 11. 2018

“The home ministry is in receipt of a report from Maharashtra Police regarding certain communications amongst individuals having links to Maoists organisations containing references to targeting the prime minister, it said.
The purported letter allegedly mentioned of a plan to “assassinate  Modi in “another Rajiv Gandhi-type incident”, the police had told the court.”., etc, wash, rinse, repeat; sound familiar?

Extras: ‘This Is Absolutely Chilling’: Ram Guha, Arundhati Roy And Others React To Activists’ Arrests, A number of prominent youth leaders, activists and authors issued a joint statement, alleging it was an attempt by the BJP to engage in “scaremongering” and “polarise” the 2019 elections in its favour’, Aug. 29, outlookindia.com

“They Would Have Arrested Gandhi”: Ramachandra Guha On Raids On Activists

Also by Arundhati Roy: ‘I Don’t Believe There Are Only Two Genders. I See Gender As A Spectrum And I’m…’ [somewhere on that spectrum] Aug. 25, 2015, outlookidnia.com

i reckon Modi believes this is the answer to critics over the 'disinclusion' of demonitization in rural areas, don't you?

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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wendy davis's picture

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magiamma's picture

The demonetisation is a crime and it cost 1.5 million jobs. Now we find out the money is back in the banks.

The farmers are committing suicide because Monsanto gave them their seeds on credit, told them lies about yields. The seeds did not deliver e.g. they did not work in that climate. Then Monsanto came/comes in later and asks for payment but the farmers have no money so they commit suicide. There are activists in India that are working on this issue.

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wendy davis's picture

@magiamma

(although she may have intended other reasons) account for massive farmer suicides, but iirc, it was also that the first year or two or crops were good, then failed after that, largely because the bollworms had adapted, and killed beneficial bacteria in the soil. same for bt corn in the US, but when eaten, the bacteria thurengenseis (sp?) sets up little plants in our guts killing even beneficial bacteria, which is what, 95% of what should be in there?

but well said that the demonitization scam is a crime. so is the bjp's war on kashmir and jammu, and protestors everywhere.

may i add this before closing time?

i got to remembering this from arundhati's wiki entry,

“Environmental historian Ramachandra Guha has been critical of Roy's Narmada dam activism. While acknowledging her "courage and commitment" to the cause, Guha writes that her advocacy is hyperbolic and self-indulgent, "Ms. Roy's tendency to exaggerate and simplify, her Manichaean view of the world, and her shrill hectoring tone, have given a bad name to environmental analysis". He faulted Roy's criticism of Supreme Court judges who were hearing a petition brought by the Narmada Bachao Andolan, as careless and irresponsible.

Roy counters that her writing is intentional in its passionate, hysterical tone: "I am hysterical. I'm screaming from the bloody rooftops. And he and his smug little club are going 'Shhhh... you'll wake the neighbours!' I want to wake the neighbours, that's my whole point. I want everybody to open their eyes"

it reminded me of this joseph conrad quote said on the apparently last cumberbatch sherlock holmes ’the final problem’ mr. wd and i watched last night.

In order to move others deeply we must deliberately allow ourselves to be carried away beyond the bounds of our normal sensibility.

~Joseph Conrad

it's closing time, so...a lullaby:

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wendy davis's picture

@magiamma

was meant to have indicated was that i'd thought that arundhati's meaning was 'since the advent of the cashless society', maybe not just the bt cotton suicides. thought i'd check w/ vendana shiva for the particulars, but every hit in bing went to 'no server'. but in one hit she claimed 300,000 suicides (since 2012, iirc), while i'd remembered 60,000.

but given that vendanshiva.com is...gone, dunno how to check. her twit feed's still up, though. she'd retweeted (boy, howdy, do i feel sill using that word!):

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Alligator Ed's picture

A thinly veiled rendition of the New Liberalism of HRC and Goldman Sachs. Take the money out of the hands of the poor and put it in the banks. Good play there. Losing 1% of GDP through that smart transaction, presages much larger losses in GDP as small business owners, unable to get small amounts of cash from any sources will be forced to take out loans, upon which they will later default. It will be interesting to see who wins the race to the financial bottom. Right now it looks like Modi in the lead, but under "Cashless" Spymaster Feinstein and company we could rapidly catch up.

Loss of small business is a path to failure--even if the real covert goal is depopulation (damn useless eaters!) Without impetus of small business, regardless of political affiliation, economies suffer. B2B commerce is always a minority in any economy.

For those here (i.e. in Amerikkka) the American Dream is vanishing, even from the Upper Middle Class.

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Alligator Ed's picture

@Alligator Ed Very much more realistic than Obomber's "Hope and Change"

See the difference: no change--it's a cashless society.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

but still...so shepherd fairey-esque. but given his charm tour of amerikka, two by the sainted 'progressive' tulsi gabbard, small wonder. he'd even adressed a joint session of congress: from kashmiri awareness:

"“During his latest visit to US, Modi has received a thunderous applause to his forty five minute speech to the joint session of US congress during which he is reported to have received extraordinary number of clappings & standing ovations.

The rousing reception begs a very important question. Has the US, which positions itself as a champion of human rights around the world ,forgotten or forgiven Modi for his complicit role in killing minority Muslims thus committing grave crimes against humanity during Gujrat riots 2002 .The question is important because in its answer lies the future survival of democracy as a best model which respects human rights. I will explain that a little later. That Modi’s Complicity in Gujrat riots is well researched & adequately documented.” [snip, detailing journalistic exposés, high level commission reports, both US and British, those killed in the anti-Sikh riots by Modi forces]

“And if it is presumed that USA has forgiven Modi, then we can only mourn the sad demise of core values from American hearts. Slobodan Milosevic must be wondering in his grave for the differential treatment he got at the hands of those whose priorities are guided more by revenue & market valuations. Whatever be the case, a caveat is in order. America by its odious behavior has undermined & debased the structure of democracy, it so enthusiastically promotes in rest of the world.”

but MOAs of understandings, another amerikan lily pad in india to encircle china, what's not to love? now that's creepy; the KA site is gone. oops, must just be that page; the site's still there. but modi has refused over and over to provide for a self-determination plebiscite that's been promised...for a long time. well, lots of just ducky news there, eee-crikey.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

i'd just seen the 'no change: cashless society', brilliant.

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ggersh's picture

@Alligator Ed @Alligator Ed as a trial run for amerika, it's a classic
neoliberal move to take from the people to give
to the rich.

EDIT: Shot out thanks to WD for the essay!

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trump amerika's last president

The CIA website has a kids section with games where children can “solve puzzles, crack codes, and discover clues like a real CIA officer”.

This is like ISIS starting an ice cream truck business.

Caitlin

wendy davis's picture

@ggersh

given it's length. it was a labor love and loathing for me: love for arundhati, and loathing for 'namasté' modi and the jdp. so...i'd reckoned either one or both reasons might cause someone to make their way thru it.

i'd been kinda/sorta remembering that modi was persona non grata before his ad blitz, so i went a bingling, found this from pando daily (some find ames and levine propagandists; of course they are, and good on them! (smile) it tallies w/ other exposés i'd growled over...

"As PandoDaily has been reporting this year, Omidyar and other Silicon Valley titans have been huge supporters of Modi, despite his long history of violent sectarianism — from his role in the semi-fascist R.S.S. paramilitary, to his role overseeing the mass-murders, gang rapes and ethnic cleansings of Muslims under his watch as head of the state of Gujarat. Modi was blacklisted by the US State Department for years over his role in the anti-Muslim violence.

Now, with Omidyar’s former right-hand man in Omidyar Network taking power in Modi’s cabinet of ministers, it’s becoming clear why Obama’s UN Representative Samantha Power praised The Intercept’s publisher for his role as a leading private arm of the US government’s global power." with other pierre and modi links below.

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ggersh's picture

@wendy davis who ever writes about India the 2nd largest
country in the world, like why bother? -s-

Actually at NC, Jerri-Lynn Scofield who lives in
India has been doing some nice though infrequent
writing about Modi and the demonetization.

Didn't know the Omiydar factor but the demonetizing
has SV written all over it so ya it's a circle that's
showing.

Also the opening paragraph is brilliant, so brilliant
I thought it was a Hedges quote. Read it again and it
reads like what exactly is happening in amerika and
most likely the rest of the western world. Damn even
Australia just banned Chelsea Manning from speaking,
girl times arent interesting they're fucked, pardon
my French Fries.

“To be lynched is a crime. To be poor is a crime. To defend the poor is to plot to overthrow the government, the vulnerable are being cordoned off and silenced. The vociferous are being incarcerated.”

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trump amerika's last president

The CIA website has a kids section with games where children can “solve puzzles, crack codes, and discover clues like a real CIA officer”.

This is like ISIS starting an ice cream truck business.

Caitlin

wendy davis's picture

@ggersh

embarrassed, but i write about india and kashmir (what was once called the 'elephant in the room' between two nuclear powers) quite often, as i do about the f'ing over of some of the small but resource rich nations of sub-saharan africa said in to be: R2P ready like venezuela, now iran, syria...still, etc.

i remember jerri-lynn, but i dinnae know she lives in india now, and i never make it to NC any longer. here's a very current piece; i'll read it as soon as i can. 'debacle' is a great tint...lol.

of course her rich and ever-so-humane humane writing is one of the reasons i love roy, plus her willingness to speak truth to power over her life of activism and writing. but of course it's all too ubiquitous globally, and i confess i'd wondered at the 'rehearsal for amerika' meme, cuz of course it's already happening here. including the arrests of activists and attorneys who aid them. now of course there aren't official death squads here...now, but the po-po still must feel like it to blacks, esp. unarmed ones, killed by police...and the tweeter-in-chief ramping up obomba's ICE raids, cages, and deportations might feel like that.

hence the seal video of 'change is gonna come', i guess. anyway, good-o, then, ggersh.

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ggersh's picture

@wendy davis but just imagine amerika and the
great orange jello piece declaring $10's and $20's
no longer good for consuming in amerika, but hey
the Fed can...holy fuck

yep neoliberalsim/capitalism is global, that's why
clintons get to sell amerika's assets to russia no
worries, fracking done globally and wars over pipelines
etc.etc. but you/we knew this for quite some time

The latest RBI report reaffirms that far from ferreting out large sums of illicit money, most of the cancelled banknotes were exchanged for new currency, as reported by The Wire in It’s Finally Official: RBI Says 99.3% of Demonetised Money Returned to Banking System:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has finally finished counting the money that was returned to the central bank after the Modi government’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes in November 2016.

The result of the RBI’s calculations: 99.3% of the scrapped notes came back into the formal banking system. [Jerri-Lynn here: see especially pp. 147-154 of the RBI report.]

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trump amerika's last president

The CIA website has a kids section with games where children can “solve puzzles, crack codes, and discover clues like a real CIA officer”.

This is like ISIS starting an ice cream truck business.

Caitlin

wendy davis's picture

@ggersh

click in! her figures don't quite match what miz roy quoted from the guardian, but i do heart this:

"That doesn’t mean the failure of the demonetization exercise has been acknowledged by the Modi government or by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Instead, earlier this week, according to India Today in BJP stalls negative report on demonetisation drafted by parliament panel:..."etc.

but okay, point taken on boss tweet not having outlawed tenners and twenties, but their fed went along w/ it, yes? oh. wait.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

but the post payments bank ('the poor never have to leave their shanties to take out loans!) revolution reminded me of pierre omidyar's 'philanthropic' micro-loans in india and elsewhere. default? sorry; take out another loan, then another...how many drank poison to escape?

but when i looked it up this a.m. i discovered that pierre and the usual suspects not only helped fund modi's campaign, but provided cover for one another over fraud charges.

great seger; thank you, sir gator of the swam.

I wanna drive a Lincoln
Spend my evenings drinking
The very best burgandy

I want a yacht for sailing
Private eye for tailing
My wife if She's a bit too free...

but the other huge part of the story i was blown away by is the caste-and religious-based murders that have been afoot, and the jailing and worse of the activists who speak out for them, as miz roy asks: where will it end? i did find twit accounts for at least one of the legal orgs that might compare to the national lawyers guild, and she led me to this series of horror stories, though i hadn't seen lynchings mentioned.

made me aware as to how appropriate this soul-wrenching, shiver-inducting sam cooke cover is for the oppressed of the wrong shade, caste...everywhere.

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It is thanks to Arundhati Roy that I was made aware of the situation in Kashmir and learned a bit about India that I was not aware of (e.g. that "Hijra", (trans-women) have long been in place in Indian society).
I read Ministry of Utmost Happiness a year or so ago. It's fiction, but it was more educational about this part of the world than anything I would find in reading the MSM.

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wendy davis's picture

@peachcreek

"Hijra", (trans-women) have long been in place in Indian society).' wiki says: also Aravani, who are featured in her essay '‘I Don’t Believe There Are Only Two Genders...' linked at the bottom.

some first american an first nations tribes actually revere trans, and they're known as 'two spirits'; i like that a lot.

arundhati is indeed a peach of a human being, and is indomitable in the face of persecution for bringing what she sees and feels...to the light.

thanks, peachcreek, including for calling me 'wd'. it's who i've been over decades of blogging, save once when i temporarily took a pseud as 'we are stardust'.

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wendy davis's picture

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wendy davis's picture

it gets worse, of course:

Arundhati Roy: The U.S. Is Growing Closer to India Militarily as Modi Expands Crackdown on Dissent’ DN, September 06, 2018

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