Novelist and Booker Prize-winner Arundhati Roy on Saturday said ‘intolerance’ was “too mild” a word to describe the grave state of current socio-political affairs.
Ms. Roy, who earlier this month joined the swelling numbers of artists and writers returning their National and Sahitya Akademi awards to protest the climate of intolerance, was in the city to accept the Mahatma Phule Samata Award on the occasion of the great social reformer’s 125th death anniversary.
Ms. Roy received the award from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal.
In her speech, Ms. Roy expressed her concern over the state of affairs under the Bharatiya Janata Party-government led by Narendra Modi, evoking the Dadri lynching and the highly controversial ‘Ghar Wapsi’ programme initiated by the Sangh Parivar and its affiliates. She alleged that millions of people from the minorities, including Muslims, Christians and members of lower castes or tribal communities, were being forced to live in a perpetual state of terror.
“Dr. Ambedkar left the Hindu religion and proselytised (sic) himself to the Buddhist religion precisely for reasons of intolerance prevailing in the Hindu religion.
“And today, the Phule-Ambedkarites are clubbed and branded ‘anti-Hindutva’ by this government [BJP] who seem to harbour sinister intentions against minorities,” Ms. Roy said. Police detained several activists of the ABVP who attempted to disrupt the award ceremony to protest her ‘anti-national’ statements in the past, including against the Indian Army.sss