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Kashmir Conflict: Two Perspectives


Mohammad Aslam

THE SIEGE OF WARWAN: A NOVEL
By Maj. Gen. G.D. Bakshi
HarperCollins, Delhi, 2011, pp. 284, 299.00

KASHMIR BLUES
By Urmilla Deshpande
Tranquebar, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 355, 325.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 10 OCTOBER 2011

Since the insurgency that erupted in the 1980s, Kashmir has been the hot media topic. The impact of militancy on the civilian population, the role of the security forces and the nightmares of insurgency have been discussed ad infinitum in public and in both fictional and non-fictional works. Recent works—Wahid Mirza's The Collaborator* (Penguin India) and, Curfewed Night (Random House, India) by Basharat Peer rcounted the story of Kashmir from an insider's point of view. Of the two books under review the first is a powerful narrative of the role of the Indian army in fighting against insurgency in a remote area, Warwan, which had assumed significance for its strategic location and infestation of Jihadis. Fighting against the incursions in the area is an Indian army outpost headed by Major Dushyant 'Dusty' of the Rashtriya Rifles. The story takes an unexpected turn when Dusty meets Ayesha, a local doctor, whose lover—Javed—has joined the Jehadis and is believed to have been killed. Since Javed could not be traced, she was married to a Peer (who is killed later) and now has a son. However, she continues to live with the belief that one day Javed will return. She can never imagine that Jehadis would turn her life into a hell. She is raped by a demonic terrorist, Kari Hunzala, a foreign militant supposed to fight an Islamic war. Ayesha's life is devasted: 'Softly he (Kari Hunzala) latched the door. Then he picked up his knife and held it against her (Ayesha's) neck… "If you shout or scream, Doctor Sahiba, I will slit your throat like this. …We leave our hearths and homes and loved ones behind to stake all in this struggle… Don’t you think we deserve some sympathy and kindness in return?" (p. 111) Ayesha couldn't shout or scream and fell a victim to the 'Jihad' that Kari Hunzala (from Baluchistan) had come to fight in Kashmir. He had virtually turned mad and would visit the village everyday looking for her.' 'His companions had begun to worry about his obsession—he seemed to have gone completely insane' (p. 115). Kari is eventually killed but not before making the life of the Warwan people, especially of Ayesha, miserable: 'She had dreamt of a handsome prince on a white horse; instead, a terrifying beast had entered her life and violated the sanctity of her body and soul’.  Her prince—...


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