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'India of Today Moving in Reverse Direction, It's a Shame': Arundhati Roy

Roy was speaking at the launch of jailed scholar GN Saibaba's book titled "Why do you fear my way so much?"

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India
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Well-known writer Arundhati Roy on Wednesday, 4 May, said that "India of today" is like a plane moving in reverse direction, and is "headed for a crash".

Roy was speaking at the launch of a book titled "Why do you fear my way so much?" which comprises a selection of poems and letters written by jailed human rights activist GN Saibaba. The event took place at Delhi's Jawahar Bhawan.

From leading "truly revolutionary movements" in the 1960s for redistribution of wealth and land, the country's leaders, she said were now distributing "5kg rice and 1kg salt" for gaining votes and winning elections.
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'Leaders of This Country Flying Plane in Reverse'

"The leaders of this country are flying the plane in reverse, everything is falling, and we are headed for a crash," the 62-year-old Booker Prize winner said, news agency PTI reported.

India is like a land of "sophisticated jurisprudence," the writer said, and added that the laws in the country are applied to people differently according to their "class, caste, gender, and ethnicity".

"What are we doing here today? We are meeting to talk about a professor who is 90 percent paralysed and has been in jail for seven years. That is what we are doing. That is enough. We do not have to speak anymore. That is enough to tell you what kind of country we are living in. What shame this is," she said, as per PTI.

Scholar GN Saibaba was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli for allegedly having links with Maoists and participating in activities that amounted to "waging war against the country".

The court had booked him and others under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Saibaba was a English Professor at Ram Lal Anand College until his arrest in 2014. He has been at Nagpur Central Jail ever since. He was terminated from the Ram Lal Anand College on 31 March last year.

He is a wheelchair-bound, 90 percent physically disabled scholar-activist, whose release, based on medical grounds, was previously demanded by several human rights groups, civil society organisations, and international academic associations.

'A Communist Can Never Be Defeated by Mr Modi': CPI General Secy Raja

While releasing the book, D Raja, the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), reiterated his demand that Saibaba should be released immediately.

"The government of the day thinks by labelling some people as 'urban maoists, 'urban naxalites, 'anti-nationals', 'terrorists' or putting them in prison or torturing them in prison, they can succeed. I warn them they can never succeed. A communist can be killed, but a communist can never be defeated by Mr Modi," Raja added.

Saibaba's wife Vasantha who attended the event recalled her husband's journey from being born in a poor family in Andhra Pradesh to overcoming his disability and succeeding as an acclaimed English professor. She also spoke in detail about the inhuman treatment that her husband had to endure at Nagpur Central Jail through the years.

Published by Speaking Tiger, the book is up for sale online and at offline book stores as well.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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