Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy has endorsed a call for a boycott of Kashmir and Kashmiris in the wake of the Pulwama tragedy. Roy’s tweet of an appeal from a “retired colonel” to boycott Kashmir and “everything Kashmiri” with the comment that “I am inclined to agree” comes when Kashmiri students, professionals, traders etc. are increasingly being targeted by Hindutva groups in many parts of India. While most of the political establishment — barring exceptions like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Left and, of course, leaders of the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir — has been ambivalent in its response to this campaign, Roy has walked the extra mile to condone it.
Maybe he needs reminding but Roy holds a Constitutional office. The Governor is the representative of the President and is expected to act as the custodian of the Constitution. In fact, he is meant to advise and caution the government if and when it transgresses Constitutional morality. What happens if he is accused of doing this? Well, nothing so far. It is tempting, of course, to dismiss this former president of BJP’s West Bengal unit as a headline-hunting loudmouth. Social media thrives on his type, left, right and centre. Hasn’t he said similar things in the past? He has, indeed. A couple of years ago, as Tripura Governor, he approvingly quoted Bharatiya Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee in a tweet to suggest that “Hindu-Muslim problem” could be resolved only through a “civil war”. Later, he clarified that he wasn’t advocating one but only quoting Mookerjee. To be fair to Roy, he has been consistent in his bigotry and it is possible that he believes it fetched him office. A year before being appointed as Tripura governor, he emphasised that “overwhelming Hindu majority is essential to maintain a multi-religious society and secular state” with the caveat that “West Bengal is slipping” on this count. Soon after taking oath as governor, Roy tweeted that Hindus in Bangladesh and West Bengal were attacked by Muslims and wondered “what awaits us Bengali Hindus?”
Roy, whose Twitter profile describes him as “right-wing Hindu socio-political thinker, writer, ideologue,” is surely entitled to his views. It’s all too good that authorities, who are quick to book university students for social media posts and charge them with sedition, firmly stand by Roy’s right to free speech. It is worth a thought, however, how much further Governor Roy needs to stoop for the government and the Rashtrapati to wake up. Meanwhile, with each hateful tweet, he undermines his Constitutional position. Not that it bothers him one bit.