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The Goddess of Big Lies

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Many are those, including me, who have held Arundhati Roy in great esteem. Apart from her writing for which she has won the Booker and many other awards and citations, she has been one who has not feared to take on the establishment, whether in India or the very powerful West, over many issues on which others would have preferred to maintain a studied and convenient silence.

She has rightly been seen as the Goddess of Rightful protest. Few could have faulted her with protesting without knowledge of the facts. Her courage and commitment has won her many admirers and enemies. But, when a deity falls off one's pedestal of honour, not only does it leave a big gap, but it makes a great noise, and it gives the Humpty-Dumpty effect to the fallen.

Arundhati Roy has just fallen into such disgrace. The celebrated writer and activist who won the Booker prize for "The God of Small Things" has fallen for her effort to bring Sri Lanka into disgrace. A writer who knew to marshal her facts and even dared challenge the Supreme Court of India on the very important Narmada Dam issue, has fallen flat on her face, through her wholly uninformed and grossly biased effort to become a new deity for worship by the Hindu Tamils of Sri Lanka, replacing the entire pantheon of Hindu deities, and the Christian Tamils by trying to replace all the saints they pray to for succour.

In her piece on "The silent horror of the war in Sri Lanka" (Times of India - March 30, 09) the celebrated Indian writer shows she is no better than the whole phalanx of uninformed, misinformed or deliberately misleading individuals and institutions, trying to better each other in reviling Sri Lanka and heaping blame on its fight to eradicate LTTE terror from this country.

From the first sentence of her piece which says, "The horror that is unfolding in Sri Lanka becomes possible because of the silence that surrounds it. There is almost no reporting in the mainstream India media - or indeed in the international press - about what is happening there. Why this should be so is a mater of serious concern" she gives herself away. She has been waiting for a horror to happen, and she believes it has indeed happened on very scant and highly doubtful evidence. It is obvious that she does not consider publications such the Hindu, edited by her important interviewer for Frontline - Mr. N. Ram, The Times of India itself, the New Indian Express and many other publications as part of the "mainstream Indian media".

That is a problem for her, but it is a fact that they have indeed reported the actualities about Sri Lanka, and not the second hand, half-baked, highly subjective, pro-terrorist spin that she has taken as the new revelation on the situation of the Tamils in the North of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Tamils have many a questionable redeemer in India, with the likes of Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha and Vaiko talking the lead, and one did not expect Arundhati Roy to join those sullied ranks.

"From the little information that is filtering through it looks as though the Sri Lankan government is using the propaganda of the 'war on terror' as a fig leaf to dismantle any semblance of democracy in the country, and commit unspeakable crimes against the Tamil people. Working on the principle that every Tamil is a terrorist unless he or she can prove otherwise, civilian areas, hospitals and shelters are being bombed and turned into a war zone. Reliable estimates put the number of civilians trapped at over 200,000. The Sri Lankan Army is advancing, armed with tanks and aircraft." So says Roy who is usually known not to depend on "little information that is filtering through" but on verified information that could be presented with true conviction.

Her piece is full of "welfare villages" that is an euphemism for "concentration camps" and the of repeated fallacy about all Tamils being treated as potential terrorists, and even repeats the LTTE's biggest propaganda spin about what happens in Sri Lanka today not being different to how the Nazis treated the Jews.

Guess who she relies on for her information. It is Mangala Samaraweera, correctly described as former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, (only for a brief period, though), with no mention that he is the most biased, virulent and self-motivated critic of the present government, who is now being distanced even by his own recent allies for the political liability he has become; not for his credibility but for his utter lack of attention to the truth. She would have done better in using Vaiko, Ramdoss or any of those Chennai lawyers who make a mockery of the court house as her trusted informants.

Arundhati Roy has produced a tirade against Sri Lanka which one does not expect of a writer held in such esteem for so long. She has proved herself to be a willing tool of LTTE propagandists today, and cannot rise much higher than that crooked Keith Vaz in the UK. She is now the purveyor of the big lie, and even her campaigns for justice in India, and her protests against the hypocrisy of the Developed World, can no more be taken as seriously as they were, prior to succumbing to this plethora of lies of the world's most cruel terrorist organization, the LTTE led by Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Much of her information is based on what the "Daily Telegraph" UK of February 14, 09 reports, describing villages for Tamil IDPs in Vavuniya and Mannar districts, that they will be ''will be compulsory holding centres for all civilians fleeing the fighting'', and on the information fed to her or the Telegraph or Mangala Samaraweera.

It is obvious she has not seen what the Sunday Telegraph on March 28, 09 states, written by its own correspondent Nick Meo, who writes what he saw and not what was filtered to him, as happened to Arundhati Roy.

Here it is: "The fighters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who for the last 26 years have claimed to be fighting to protect Sri Lanka's Tamil ethnic minority, have forbidden the refugees to leave - on pain of death.

"But as the long civil war grinds slowly towards its end with the Tigers apparently facing final defeat, conditions within their enclave have become so grim that in the last week alone an estimated 5,000 people - men, women and terrified children - have risked their lives to flee. Many have been shot by rebel gunmen and some of those caught have been executed.

"The elderly man, wearing a grimy T-shirt and sarong and clutching a single bag that he said contained all that remained of his worldly possessions, had managed to get out that morning." And so the story of Tamil suffering under the LTTE goes on; which the great contemporary goddess of letters has never heard of even in her dreams.

When she wrote to the former Kerala Chief Minister AK Antony (later Union Defence Minister) and told him there was "blood on his hands" over the police attack on the Adhivasis in the Muthanga atrocity in a wild life reserve in India, this is how she obtained her information for that bold condemnation.

"I visited the Muthanga sanctuary (partly used as a eucalyptus plantation for Grasim's Gwalior Rayons factory, which has recently been closed) where the Kerala Police opened fire on hundreds of Adivasis. I visited the Sultan Bathery hospital where the wounded have been admitted. I visited some Adivasi settlements close to the sanctuary. I also visited the Calicut jail and met C.K. Janu and Geethanandan, both of whom are recovering after having been badly beaten by the police. Apart from this I spoke with several eyewitnesses to the firing." That is the Arundhati Roy, whose thirst for the truth was respected. But on the Sri Lankan issue today she depends in her own words on filtered information, which clearly points out to much that is left out , which will not serve her purpose of Sri Lanka bashing. That is how a deity falls, in the muck of her own lies.

Opening her essay the "End of the Imagination" on the India's nuclear test in May 1988 that she opposed, Arundhati Roy wrote: "There can be nothing more humiliating for a writer of fiction to have to do than restate a case that has, over the years, already been made by other people in other parts of the world, and made passionately, eloquently and knowledgeably." Which prompts one to say that she had better confine herself to fiction, and not venture into the area of fact where she has no research, no reliable information, and no verification, which leaves her most humiliated by repeating ad nauseam the falsehoods that have been said loud and clear by the likes of Navi Pillay, Keith Vaz, Vaiko and other who echo the lies of the LTTE and the unverified figures of the UNHCR...such as 200,000 Tamil civilian being attacked by land and air by government troops.

This is how she concludes her diatribe: "Several of us including myself, who should have spoken out much earlier, have not done so, simply because of a lack of information about the war. So while the killing continues, while tens of thousands of people are being barricaded into concentration camps, while more than 200,000 face starvation, and genocide waits to happen, there is dead silence from this great country [India].

It's a colossal humanitarian tragedy. The world must step in. Now. Before it's too late."

She talks of a genocide waiting to happen. This must be the most unique of all genocides in the world, when the very Tamil people who are to be wiped out through the coming genocide, are coming in their thousands to the safety and shelter of the Government and the security forces of Sri Lanka, plotting to carry out the genocidal elimination of the entire Tamil race. Obviously there is something seriously wrong in the thinking of much publicized and honoured writer. As much as I find fault with her for the bloody untruths she has said about Sri Lanka, I do not want to be on the side of the BJP that once accused her of supporting terrorists, when she sought a fair trial for the man accused of the bomb attack on the Lok Sabha. But I have yet to read anything she has said of the blood curdling racism that we have heard from Varun Gandhi, which came nearly two weeks before her ill-researched attack on Sri Lanka.

As for all humans, even writers of distinction, both men and women, are known to indulge in sexual fantasizing. Her commitment to peddling untruths that can only help the LTTE in its campaign of terror directed against the Tamils, gives the impression that her fantasies must be include a close and intimate relationship with a tiger, that it fast losing its fangs, in its diminishing hideout in the Vanni. Arundhati Roy is free to have such fantasies, even of bestiality. But the thrills she derives from that should not be imposed on her readers.

It is sad to see the person who wrote the "The God of Small Things" so willingly become The Goddess of Big Lies.



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Last modified: August 06, 2010.

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