Author Arundhati Roy on Friday defended her remarks on the National Population Register, which have now invited a criminal complaint against her. On Wednesday, at a protest at Delhi University, Roy had asked Indians to oppose the NPR by furnishing wrong names and addresses.
Roy said her remarks were misinterpreted. “What I was proposing was civil disobedience with a smile,” she noted in a statement.
The author had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of lying at his Ramlila Maidan rally in Delhi on December 22, in which he had claimed that his government never said anything about the National Register of Citizens process, and that there are no detention camps in the country.
“He told the lie knowing that it will be caught but still he lied because he has media with him which will not question him,” Roy alleged.
Roy said her comments on NPR were in response to “Modi’s lies”. She added that since her comments were misinterpreted, there have been calls for her arrest. “My question is this: is it ok for the prime minister of this country to lie to us but a criminal offence and a security threat for us people to have a laugh?” she added.
Here is her full statement:
“THIS IS WITH REGARD to what I said while speaking at Delhi University on December 25th 2019 about the National Population Register (which the nation now knows is officially the data base for the National Register of Citizens).
I said that in his speech on December 22 at the Ramlila Grounds in Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blatantly lied to us about the National Register of Citizens and the non- existence of Detention Centres.
I said that as a response to those lies we should collectively enter ridiculous information when they came to gather our personal data for the NPR. What I was proposing was civil disobedience with a smile.
All the mainstream TV channels that were present have footage of my entire speech. Of course they did not air any of it. They just excited themselves and everybody else by commenting on it and misrepresenting it and lying about it. This has led to calls for my arrest as well as TV crews laying siege to my home.
Fortunately my speech it is up on YouTube.
My question is this: is it ok for the Prime Minister of this country to lie to us but a criminal offence and a security threat for us people to have a laugh?
Amazing times. Amazing mass media.”
On Thursday, a Supreme Court lawyer filed a complaint against the author for her remarks on NPR, reported ANI. “The above statement is nothing but a deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of Muslims,” advocate Rajeev Kumar Ranjan said in his complaint.
Ranjan has filed the complaint at Delhi’s Tilak Marg police station under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and National Security Act. He has accused Roy of offences like breach of peace, mischief, intent to cause a riot and criminal conspiracy. “I have sought an investigation into the matter and punishment to her so that she learns the lesson and never passes such comments ever again,” Ranjan added.
Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress have condemned Roy’s remark.
The National Population Register, introduced by the Congress-led government in 2010, is a register of citizens in the country that will contain demographic and biometric details. On Tuesday, the Union Cabinet approved funds of more than Rs 3,900 crore to update the register. The Census of India website describes it as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.
However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had claimed on Tuesday that there was no relation between the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens. He also asserted that detention camps have not been set up for people who will be excluded from the National Register of Citizens.