Editorial in The Hindu:
“In his classic defence of free speech, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill laid down what is known as the ‘harm principle.’ It postulates that the only justification for silencing a person against his will is to prevent him from causing harm to others.
“It is to this powerful libertarian mid-19th century principle that we owe the idea that free speech cannot be proscribed merely because we find it disagreeable, and that curbs may be imposed only if such expression constitutes a direct, explicit, and unequivocal incitement to violence.
“There is no such nexus in Arundhati Roy‘s statements on Kashmir, which are shaped around the theme of gross human rights violations and ‘fundamentally a call for justice.’ It is tragi-comic that there is talk of ‘sedition’ at a time when it is regarded as obsolete in many countries.”
Editorial in Mail Today:
“Those arguing for registration of criminal cases against these individuals are only betraying their lack of respect for the right of free speech and their rather fragile notion of what constitutes our nationhood….
“Arundhati Roy is a public intellectual and has a right to voice her views even if they may appear anti- India in nature. The right of free speech and expression lies at the core of our democracy, and any abrogation of it, diminishes freedom in the country. That is why censorship is the most important weapon in the arsenal of autocrats….
“The bottomline here is that the Indian state is not so weak or fragile as to feel threatened by speeches that few will commend for their balance or good sense.”
Venkatesan Vembu in DNA:
“Soundbite-savvy Roy’s polemics were once merely infuriatingly dishonest (even when they had half a point), her most recent public articulations on Kashmir, coming on top of her unvarnished defence of Maoist resort to violence, cross the threshold of what any self-respecting, law-bound nation-state can tolerate….
“Apart from being historically inaccurate, Roy’s words also betray an inadequate sensitivity to the enormous gravity of any loose talk of azaadi or self-determination at a time when the separatist campaign in Kashmir finally stands exposed before the world as having been propelled all along by Pakistan-backed jihadis who are playing for much larger stakes: the disintegration of secular India.
“Perhaps in parlour room polemics, among calm and politically sanitised minds, there may be little risk from intellectual explorations of the merits of Kashmiri self-determination. But the Kashmir mind today is in a fevered state as a result of years of hot-headed jihadi indoctrination; only when that fever subsides can other cures be contemplated.
“Right now, given that inflamed state, Roy’s words have the potency to bestir indoctrinated minds into extreme action.”
Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today