Award-Winning Author Arundhati Roy Faces Jail Under Anti-Terror Law

An official from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on June 14 authorized the prosecution of Indian novelist Arundhati Roy under the country’s anti-terrorism law over comments she made in 2010 about Kashmir.

New Delhi Lt. Governor V.K. Saxena’s office said that investigators sought to use India’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act against Roy, an outspoken opponent of the ruling party, and Saxena had approved their request.

Several members of the Bharatiya Janata Party supported the decision and portrayed the novelist as a traitor who was backed by India’s opposition Congress party.

BJP national spokesman Tuhin Sinha said in an interview that Roy’s 14-year-old remarks were an attempt to demoralize the Indian military.

Another spokesman for the BJP, Shehzad Poonawalla, likened Arundhati Roy to convicted terrorists for saying in 2010 that Kashmir was “not an integral part of India” when the opposition party was in power.

Poonawalla accused the Congress party and its supporters of seeking to “break India into many pieces.”

The 62-year-old Roy initially faced a criminal complaint after telling an audience at a 2010 New Delhi conference that Kashmir only became a part of India after it was occupied by Indian troops.

The comments caused immediate outrage among supporters of the BJP but the criminal complaint faded into obscurity until it was revived 13 years later in October 2023 when Lt. Gov. Saxena initially sanctioned Roy’s prosecution for the charge of promoting enmity between groups and threatening the national integrity of India.

On June 14, Saxena announced that Roy could face also prosecution under India’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which allows suspected terrorists to be preemptively held without bail for years before charges are officially filed.

The act has no statute of limitations, meaning that authorities would be free to charge Roy for the comments she made in 2010.

Rebecca John, an attorney representing the author, said the case was politically motivated and alleged that Roy was being targeted for “her unfailing commitment to human rights.”