Police probe Indian author over Kashmir remarks
NEW DELHI – Indian police were investigating Tuesday whether a Booker Prize-winning author and a hard-line Kashmiri separatist leader can be tried for sedition for questioning India's claim to disputed Kashmir.
Author Arundhati Roy and separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani are accused of saying that Kashmir was not an integral part of India during speeches at a seminar in New Delhi last month.
A court in the capital ordered police to look into the case after a complaint was filed by a private citizen. Police had earlier decided not to pursue the case.
"We have registered a case against Roy and Geelani following the court's directions," said Rajan Bhagat, a spokesman for New Delhi police.
Sedition carries a possible life sentence.
Both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty over Kashmir and have fought two wars over its control since the end of British rule in 1947.
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in the region after decades of violent turmoil. Separatist insurgencies and crackdowns by the hundreds of thousands of Indian troops deployed in the Indian-administered portion have killed more than 68,000, most of them civilians, since 1989.
Roy is an author and activist whose novel "The God of Small Things" won the Booker Prize in 1997. She has in the past come under criticism for calling for Kashmir's independence.
Geelani is spearheading the separatist campaign in the Indian portion of Kashmir. He is a key leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of political and religious groups.