AS FAR AS THE SAFFRON FIELDS.

Author: Danesh Rana.

Genre: True crime. Pulwama Conspiracy investigation.

Kashmir is believed to derive it’s name from the sage Kashyap who, according to the legends settled people in the valley. Often called as “The paradise on Earth” for it’s unplausible beauty, Kashmir was once a hub for literature and aesthetic learning. Blessed by Buddhism, Shaivism, Hinduism, Islamic teachings and so many scholars it became a welcoming mother to all. During ,1947 Partition of India, Kashmir was handed over to the Indian provinces by the then ruler of Kashmir, Hari Singh. From that time, Kashmir has been a centre of conflict between India and Pakistan. It is said that till 1980s, amongst some minor unrest, people with multiple religions lived in harmony. But cracks in the form of terrorism started scarring the once tranquil valley. Thus started the evident separatist insurgency movement throughout Jammu Kashmir, instigating the youth to take up arms and join the cause of Azadi (freedom) or Liberation of Kashmir. Frequent incidents of terrorism, target killing, forceful conversion on religious ideas, stone pelting on the security forces, shooting of those who would oppose their cause, became a regular scene. In 2018, the central government scrapped ” Article 370″ and In 2019, Jammu & Kashmir was divided into two Union Territories of India. ( Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh respectively).

In the district of Pulwama, lies a small town Lethpora located on the banks of Jhelum where one can get finest saffron (kesar). On 14 February 2019 afternoon this town saw a bloodiest terrorist attack, that was not only heard in the 10 km radius but who’s aftermath was unrecognisable. This suicide attack killed 40 CRPF personnel, injured 35. Grieving kins of the Army personnel received empty boxes. Such was the impact that the strewn body parts along with the metal, plastic scattered everywhere leaving a bloody trail.

The book takes us around the Pulwama conspiracy, right from its inception to its execution and ultimately the death of the mastermind. The very mindset of romanticism of the terrorism amongst the youth who aspire for the power and glamour is baffling. The author tell us about the family background of the terrorists also and their role in this dastardly attack. This book is based on true crime, with appropriate references to each fact. What irked me little was the face of the terrorists on the cover! It disturbed me throughout.

A lot has been told in the book which gives us a clear idea of the tension brewing in the valley, role of the governments, the residents who see their young boys straying. The cross-border terrorism, a bitter truth is exposed nakedly with facts and references. Apart for the Pulwama attack, few other deadly bombings, shootouts have been stated. I loved this books narration. It is not subtle. Doesn’t shy away from telling the truth and the language is proficient and fluid.

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