Valley of paradoxes
JHELUM KINARE DAHKATE CHINAR (Hindi): Urmilesh; Anamika Publishers, Darya Ganj, New Delhi-110002. Rs. 200.
ATTEMPTS BY journalists to write on terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir(J & K) and the concept of Kashmiriyat have been more in English but this travelogue by the author, a senior journalist, tries to fill the gap in Hindi.
His visits to all the three regions of the State Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh helped him understand the State's multi-cultural society and the coverage of the Kargil War strengthened his desire to pen his experiences.
The reporter in him surfaces in assessments of the proxy-war, political life and the race for power after the last year's Assembly elections. Political events make their presence felt in the travelogue which emerges as an honest compilation of his experiences between 1998 and 2002.
The chapter "Kashmir Mein Iqbal'' makes interesting observations. Most roadside eateries in Kashmir have posters and pictures of the poet who penned "Sare Jahan Se Accha Hindostan Hamaraa''.
Iqbal is regarded more as a philosopher than a poet in Kashmir, an aspect left unexplored by many so far. He also observes how media experts have sprouted and how they make one observation for the foreign and another for the Indian TV channels.
The chapter on the formation of PDP-Congress Government in Srinagar treads the familiar ground of militancy and power tussle.
He raises queries relating to human rights violation, mysterious disappearances, vested interests and the Hurriyat. The lure of political observations bogs down the author at places but perhaps it intertwines too inseparably with life in J&K.
While passing through Srinagar, he wonders at the string of posh homes and remarks that even during militancy the well-heeled continue to splurge on non-productive items. Contractors, politicians, floriculturists, carpet dealers and bureaucrats are the inhabitants of this "rahasyalok'' (land of mystery).
Chapters on Sheikh Abdullah's mausoleum and Ladakh make for interesting reading. This volume has ably documented the turbulent times in J&K.
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