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Review of the book "In the Times of Article 370"
Ayanna Kohli9/18/2019 9:45:27 PM
"In The Times of Article 370" though a fiction but in fact appears to be a true story of a soldier and well captured and reproduced by the young author, Ayanna Kohli. It is a story of a young officer Ram, who goes to serve in Jammu and Kashmir, when article 370 was in place. The story reveals a cross section of situation in J & K prior to abrogation of article 370. In the first episode, it is depicted as to how the young Kashmiri boys are forced and lured into terrorism, yet the security forces save one of them, who later joins Territorial Army. It brings out as to how Pakistan operates its terrorism model at different layers, hybrid war fare as the author puts it. A young girl Shabnam was abducted by the terrorist and she died when terrorist Jameel jumped along with her into a Nallaha when security forces cordoned him. The girl died by hitting against a tree trunk, but officer Ram was framed to have killed her. This shows how the army and security forces in J& K were being defamed as a plot hatched by Pakistan in connivance with local media.. However, in reality people considered army as their saviours. A tunnel was built to connect Mosque and house so that terrorists may escape for security forces will not touch the mosque, shows how the hands of our security forces remain tied, which again is being exploited by Pakistan terrorists. Nexus between local politicians of that time with terrorists and migration of OGW to Himachal Pradesh is well showcased. The book "In the Times of Article 370" reveals Pakistan's hybrid warfare in the form of cross border terrorism and its juxtaposition with local extremism, local politicians and above all poisoning and radicalizing the mind set of local youth. This book shows "Normalcy and winning of hearts and minds" of the people in J& K cannot be achieved unless Pakistan is completely isolated from J& K and people in J&K come to believe that Pakistan sponsored terrorism is over once and for all and they can enjoy fruits of democracy and development like rest in the motherland. It is a must read book for all who would like to look beyond article 370.
The story is set in the times of Article 370. It tries to project the ground situation as it existed in the Doda District of Jammu and Kashmir in the years 2005 to 2007.
How much will change on the ground after the abrogation of Article 370 is unclear, but one thing is certain that once the police comes directly under the government of India, the law and order could definitely improve in the long run.
The narration of events in the book would give the reader a fair idea of how the 'system' used to work when Article 370 was in place, and Jammu and Kashmir was a state. The readers may keep this bigger picture in mind while they read through the nuances of the ups and downs of the incidents.
The book also explains how hybrid warfare is not only military in nature but also has multiple dimensions to it. The book has special reference as to how the media operates in the conflict zones and brings out how it is often used by both sides to shape perception. Live and vivid examples in the story bring out how media, if managed well, can act as a force multiplier.
There are some interesting questions the book throws up at you. Will the revocation of Article 370 solve the problem of terrorism in Kashmir? Will that reduce incidents of violence in the valley? Will people from outside the union territory be actually able to buy lands in the hinterlands of Kashmir?
There are no direct answers, but there are some logical deductions that are worth pondering over.
The governance on the ground does change because of the police coming directly under the Centre's control. The alleged corruption in the police force is likely to go down. The alleged nexus between politicians and terrorists is likely to reduce as local politicians would have reduced power and authority now. The readers can derive their own conclusions after reading the incidents if the so- called insurgency would increase or decrease.
The incidents mentioned in the book show how deep- rooted corruption used to be in Jammu and Kashmir, and it goes on to show that corruption is also a cause that fuels militancy.
The incidents are narrated in a casual and blunt way to entice the readers to imagine the environment on their own, develop their own understanding of the situation and deduce their own conclusions. At no point in the story is the reader spoon-fed. The fast pace of the events in the story keeps the readers on their edge.
The book speaks to you after a while, and you want more from it. This is an unusual book that does not conform with the stereotypes of writing fiction.
Overall, the book would make an exciting read for those who like educated thrill in their lives and as a reading choice.
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