Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thrill and revelations of stunted Kashmir

Book Review: Non-fiction/The Meadow by Adrian Levy &Cathy Scott-Clark, Penguin, 510 pp; Rs499 (Hardback)
By the 1995, Kashmir valley was accustomed for hosting the worst of terror plots by the Pakistan supported militant operatives. This year, six foreign nationals were abducted by an obscure Islamic outfit in valley for securing the release of Pakistani militant leader Maulana Masood Azhar (few years later, this man has plotted the attack on Indian parliament) and the world for the first time started acknowledging panic stricken Kashmir’s grim plight.
Though this incident initially electrified the international governments and the government in India too, but the whole episode ended non-descript and without getting back the remaining four hostages (one miraculously escaped and another was beheaded and found a month later). Only some foibles were melted in the collective perceptions towards India and over the complex issue of Kashmir but it took another six years till the twin towers were collapsed and Pentagon attacked in 2001-9/11 to get USA realised that the world is not so flat by the counter-posing strong assertive power of international terror networks.
Discourse changed radically henceforth and war on terror became so inevitable that even the uproaring capitalist virtue seemed halted for a while. That was a late consciousness and ineffective too, as it was neither meant to end the terror nor had any welfaristic aims for other struggling countries against the militancy-clearly USA had single plan in action to reestablish its hegemony in the crucial oil rich terrains of Middle East and strategically essential, Afghanistan. That was ineluctable from the USA part seeing the might, it hold over the new strategic composition in post cold war years, but ensuing after single massive attack on its land, its riff raffling outweighed all limits against the structured rogues.
‘The Meadow’ is based on the authentic account of that lone survivor and Adrian Levy-Cathy Scott Clark’s painstaking research in Kashmir and throughout the world where they could get anything particular about those six hostages and the series of events followed. A sizable part of the research for this book is based on the verbatim authors has collected through their meticulous and ministering search over the years. So locutions sound horribly shocking and suffice for flouting big claims that the governments across the world make against their win over illegal terror (legal terror is that pursued by the state with some acceptance and more intrigue!).
This book presents a good example of investigative and also narrative journalism barring few dispensable details. On many places, this creates confusion in differentiating between author’s opinion and their commentary on real incidents. Like few pages on Jagmohan’s gubernatorial stint in Jammu&Kashmir with inefficient clarity of authors on his stand during the most turbulent phase of early 1990’s distracts from the theme, and in real, it has less to do with the triangular dispute of Kashmir that has multiple layers.
Gathering large number of facts is quite normal with the kind of book, this is, however excessive leeway of the authors for collecting more news than views produces the overall effect less natty and disorganised. Seeing through the pages, book projects many forgotten side stories, few of them are worth of revisiting and rest are easily escapable. Turning of Kashmir into a conflict zones from an abode of peace and syncretism didn’t take too long after the end of world war-II that ruined the erstwhile colonial powers. The power shifted from the ageing Europe towards USA and USSR, newly independent nation like India has stout aspiration to succeed in a new world and that was troublesome for the departing imperialists.
So they made the extremely virulent planks by converging ‘identity issues’ with the twins-religion and geography and also backed the whole plan by some strongest futuristic pronouncements. More than any other issue, this nasty idea of Mountbatten became able to confuse Nehru on Kashmir matter in the later years and that hyper-moralism tolled negatively on the peace and stability of this region. The masterly hateful antics on which M.A.Jinnah’s career thrived in the politics, succeeded to form a country with the brutal tantamount on the uncountable numbers of people who lost their lives or lost their calm forever. Unlike Nehru, Jinnah was not leading a real democracy, so he lost his control from his most unrealistic venture-Pakistan very soon and this newly born nation’s democratic training halted in infancy and never could recuperate those exercises, even half willingly since then.
The tussle of the two nations was begun as regional dispute and soon turned a hotcake of multilateral discussions without any plans to resolving the complications at fore among the different stakeholders. Abduction of those six foreign tourists in 1995 was inhuman, lately refutation got place against the Pakistan’s proxy war in Kashmir valley but so far condition was deteriorated much badly. India faced challenge on its secularism through a troubled Kashmir, Pakistan almost failed as a nation in projecting the very wrong agenda and what happened to Kashmiriyat, very few had any afterthought!
Situation has indeed changed in the Kashmir valley today, if compare the existing scenario of 1995, but is it really marks the win of good on evil? To a large extent, state had no option but to crush the terror networks being handled from the outside with very active interface of local dissents, those who were not qualified to be called ‘revolutionary’ since they did not know the meaning of their fight against India. The demand of ‘Azaadi’ couldn’t be simplified under the incredible leadership, Kashmir faced in the last six and half decades. That’s why, grand narrative like the ‘The Meadow’ is the simplest outcome of Kashmir’s long forgotten existential needs.
A book of this serious stature has been written for those six kidnapped tourists, this is indeed commendable as working on such project requires commitment, far ahead than one comes through the professional obligations alone. But it would be unlikely that thousands, who lost lives and lakhs of Kashmiris in valley or outside suffering the mental agony, will be ever able to be narrated through even the voluminous meta-narrative compositions…their distorted past and uncertain future probably needs no chronicler!
Atul Kumar Thakur
June 24th, 2012, Sunday, New Delhi
(Published in The Kashmir Today,June 24,2012/ )

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