Writer Arundhati Roy’s house in the hill resort of Panchmari is under law threat as the petition filed by her husband was rejected by the Madhya Pradesh High Court asking the writer’s husband, filmmaker Pradeep Kishan to appear before a sub-divisional magistrate. This order has come 4 years after the Madhya Pradesh government had served a notice to Kishan for tribal land encroachment.
The bungalow, owned by Kishan, is in the Barivam village of Panchmari. Barivar is a part of the Panchmari special area development authority created to protect wildlife in that region. Sources in Bhopal say that this step is an outcome the Shivraj Singh Chauhan- led BJP government’s disapproval of Roy’s anti- state comments in Kashmir. Following the writer’s “seditious statements” Chauhan had recently suggested that jail was her ideal place.
The bungalow controversy however started in 2003 when the local administration claimed that the elevated bungalow was in the notified forest land. Back then Niyaz Ahmed, the SDM had acted upon a complaint made by a tribal, Vijay Singh, that Kishan and three others had allegedly encroached on the protected land. Kishan’s accomplices also include Aradhana Seth, sister of writer Vikram Seth.
This however, is not the first of Roy’s controversies in the state. She has been a part of active campaigns for the rights of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivors and the displaced villagers of the Sardar Sarovar dam. After winning the Booker award in 1997, she joined Medha Patkar in her Narmada Bachao Andolan. She has already been subjected to sarcastic attacks from the BJP leaders who now want her to comment on the fact that her husband has been encroaching on a tribal piece of land and endangering so many animal species. A BJP spokesperson also mentioned that she should now take care of her own family before extending support to the Kashmiri separatists and the naxalites. Kishan and the others can, however, appeal to Manoj Shrivastava the commissioner of the Bhopal and Hoshangabad division, if the verdict turns out to be against them.