I went to Kashmir last year and fell in love with it! Who wouldn’t. I did my preparation though. I read as many books on Kashmir as I could manage. But I was still spellbound when I visited it.
This book has come around approximately a year after my trip and it has put a lot of things in perspective. There is a lot of background to what I already knew and some new revelations that I came across.
The cover page is beautiful. On the cover is the Dal lake. Think of Kashmir and this is what comes to your mind invariably. The front cover is serene. Go back and the haunting picture of Kashmir comes into view. A soldier pointing a gun at a stone pelter. I like to keep the book facing front and forget the back cover even exists.
The book begins with the author putting the history of Kashmir in perspective. He begins with various travelogues and historical accounts that describe the different dynasties that ruled Kashmir. One by one emperors changed but the atrocities remained. Each was only slightly different from the previous one when it came to the subjugation of the natives. The people suffered but they kept the Kashmiriat intact. Kashmir remained a place where different religions cohabited peacefully irrespective of the religion the ruler followed. The author mentions different literature and historical accounts to support his theories throughout which is very convincing but I wish there were some extracts from the books as well. In the introduction to the history you get to know of Lal Ded and Lawrence who gave an identity to Kashmir and another who fought for justice.
Kashmir has a lot of history and culture to boast of. After centuries of foreign rule, India finally promised them a self government. Nehru government manages to welcome Kashmir into India but remain in it under special terms. Article 370 was protected the people of Kashmir. However, soon after Nehru’s special designation came selfish politics and unwarranted violence. The author has dealt with each aspect in detail but somehow the election rigging and Pandit exodus is brushed under the carpet. It feels like a minor event while you are reading it in the book but it holds a lot of significance when you turn back to the history of the valley. Pandit exodus is conveniently blamed on one person which is rather unfair.
To know intimate details about the exodus, Our Moon has Blood Clots forms a great read. It tells you what exactly went on and how lives were scattered, unlike this book where the event is just a data for history books. There is a responsibility on those representing the majority to keep the minority safe. Somehow this does not reflect well in the book.
There are not many questions asked, only points are listed across like a bulleted answer sheet.
However, even though, this does not satisfy your hunger to know more, this book definitely promotes the spirit of goodwill that I have come to appreciate.
The language is very accessible. Unlike Indian Cultures as Heritage, this book is not difficult to understand.
The cover is beautiful. The content is chronological, very easy to read. The writing is precise. There are quite a few references that will help in case you want to study Kashmir further.
The book may not be very explainatory. There are certain matters that you may want to know more about but will be disappointed. There are references of the books all around but what I missed were the quotes. I wish the author had picked up quotes directly from the references more for us to understand better.
I did learn a lot from the book. It is a history in brief. I am glad I came across it.
Whom do I recommend this to
Those who want to understand why young men are picking up arms in the valley are going to find this book very useful.
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