Nation can`t progress by arresting thinkers: Habibullah

Criticising the demands for the arrest of writer Arundhati Roy for her alleged seditious speech, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah today said nation cannot progress "by arresting thinkers".

Last Updated: Oct 29, 2010, 21:28 PM IST

New Delhi: Criticising the demands for the
arrest of writer Arundhati Roy for her alleged seditious
speech, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat
Habibullah today said nation cannot progress "by arresting
thinkers" though her views may be "faulty reading" of the
problems in Kashmir.

He said challenge before governments is to give people a
feeling that they are part of governance.

"There are those who wish to bring about change in the
entire country. They do not question the integrity of India,
they question division of classes. Challenge is to give people
a feeling that they are part of governance.

"When Arundhati Roy criticised, people said she should
be arrested so on and so forth. You don`t progress by
arresting of thinkers. You may dispute the thought. I think
her statement regarding what the Kashmiris want is based on a
faulty reading of the problem in Kashmir," Habibullah said.

In his lecture on `The blossoming of India`s Democracy
and its implications for Governance` organised by Centre for
Media Studies, he questioned whether image of a shining India
was only an image which has created fear among some sections
of the society that benefits of country`s progress, which are
being enjoyed by the others, are denied to them.

"I do know that in Kashmir that is the threat. These
young people who come out to streets, they told interlocutors
this that it is India that is making progress. Where is the
progress here?," Habibullah said.

The former IAS officer of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre,
who became the first Chief of the Central Information
Commission said the picture of shining India may not be "so
shiney" as perceived by these youths.

"Is everyone working...Has everyone got a job. That
remains a challenge," he said.

"We have overtaken one major challenge that is threat to
unity. It started from Tamilnadu, spread to Assam, Khalistan
movement of Punjab. All these have been resolved by the
exercise of democracy. They have not been resolved by the
military strength or paramilitary strength. That may contain
the problem but not resolve them," he said.

He said in these states people have realised that they
could choose their own leaders and vetting of those leaders
from New Delhi was not required.

"In earlier years, the impression was he (the elected
leader) must be acceptable to New Delhi as if New Delhi was
kind of an imperial power. Because New Delhi was an heir to
imperial power. That impression is not there anymore. I think
that is an achievement," he said.

PTI