Indian author Arundhati Roy, Kashmiri scholar Sheikh Showkat to face prosecution over 2010 speech

New Delhi: Amid growing concerns about freedom of speech in Modi’s India, Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has granted sanction to prosecute renowned Indian author Arundhati Roy and Kashmiri scholar and former professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain for their speeches made at an event in Delhi fourteen years ago.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the sanction to prosecute Arundhati Roy, a fierce critic of India’s policy in Kashmir, and Sheikh Showkat, former Central University of Kashmir professor, was granted under the black law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Roy and Hussain had made the speeches at a conference organised under the banner of ‘Azadi – The Only Way’ on October 21, 2010 at LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, in New Delhi.

The FIR against Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain was registered following the orders of the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi, officials in the Raj Niwas, the official residence of Delhi LG, said.

The FIR in the matter was registered on a complaint made by Kashmir-based Hindu rightwing activist, Sushil Pandit, on October 28, 2010. The Hindu activist claimed that Roy’s speech, and a number of others, “jeopardized public peace and security” by advocating for the separation of Kashmir from India.

Although the case was registered in 2014, the sanction to prosecute Arundhati Roy and Shiekh Showkat has once again stoked concerns about freedom of speech under Modi’s government. Roy has long been a vocal critic of India’s Prime Minister Narandra Modi and experts say the case is an effort to silence her.

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