The UN High Commissioner condemns the prosecution of Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain, urges the government to reconsider move

After the Delhi Lieutenant Governor granted sanction to prosecute writer and academic, Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain, the UN has released a strong statement called out against the prosecution, and the release of all human rights defenders.

The United Nations’ top human rights official has taken to X, formerly Twitter, to share their concern over India’s move to apply the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) author and winner of the Booker Prize, Arundhati Roy and Professor International Law at the Central University of Kashmir Sheikh Showkat Hussain

Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, posted on the social media site and has urged Indian authorities to reconsider and drop the cases against author Arundhati Roy and former Central University of Kashmir professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain, both of whom are facing prosecution for their comments on Kashmir.

The UN Human Rights Office made the following statement, “We are concerned by the use of #UAPA anti-terror law to silence critics. Repeat call for review of law & release of human rights defenders detained under it. Urge authorities to drop cases against Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain over comments on Kashmir.”

Soon after the general assembly results came out, news arrived on June 14th that Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena had granted the Delhi police to pursue action against Roy and Hussain in relation to a 2010 case. The two had reportedly made a speech that law enforcement has designated as ‘provocative’ in October 2010 under the banner of protest called ‘Azadi the only way.’

A Raj Niwas official reportedly told the Hindustan Times, “The issues discussed and spoken about at the conference propagated the separation of Kashmir from India.”

Other people who had also reportedly spoken at the event which dates fourteen years ago include the late Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, DU professor, SAR Geelani and activist Varavara Rao. A man named Sushil Pandit had filed an FIR against them at the time.

The prosecution has started last year in 2023 itself when Lieutenant Governor granted permission to prosecute those accused sections 196 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, including 124-A (sedition), 153-A (enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 153-B (imputation, assertions, prejudicial to national integration), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (statements conducing of public mischief).

Roy has also been recently named the recipient of the prestigious PEN Pinter Prize 2024.  This win has come only a few weeks after Roy was sanctioned to be prosecuted by Indian authorities.

As per a report by the BBC, the chair of the English PEN awards, Ruth Borthwick spoke about Roy saying that she was important because she told “urgent stories of injustice with wit and beauty”. Borwick also stressed that Roy’s “powerful voice is not to be silenced.”



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