Dilemma and desperation of Kashmiris

Sharda Lal
Name of Book : As far as the Saffron fields
The Pulwama Conspiracy
Author : Danesh Rana
Danesh Rana’s gripping 2022 book, AS FAR AS THE SAFFRON FIELDS – THE PULWAMA CONSPIRACY, is a well chronicled, non-fiction story of a terrorist Muhammad Umar Farooq Alvi, alias Idrees Bhai along with his accomplices, who sneaked into Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir during the intervening night of 13 – 14 April 2018 to quench the blood-thirsty appetite of irreligiously motivated warlords of his own country Pakistan and thus accomplish, what they call ‘the unfinished agenda of annexing the Heaven on Earth’, that is the Valley of Kashmir.
The book, interwoven with literary finesse and action-packed narration, appears to caution the common Indian masses, including the deeply religious people of Jammu and Kashmir, to remain alert and vigilant against the conspiracies, hatched by commanders of various terrorist outfits across the western borders and the Line of Control. These plotters are confident that they have nothing to lose, even if the bloodshed escalates and damage occurs in Jammu, Kashmir or anywhere else in India. The book describes the terror attack on Pathankot air base,
Though the overconfident Umar is killed by Indian security forces on 19 March 2019 while fearfully praying to God for his safety, after about eleven months of his rendezvous with the pliant zealots on this side of the border to wage Jihad, the writer ends the story with an obvious sense of pessimism about any peace returning when he says, “These stories will continue to get written on the canvas of time over and over in Kashmir……. as long as the conflict goes on.” Needless to reiterate, Pakistan keeps on hatching anti-India conspiracies in succession, without any respite.
The book, dedicated to ‘the memory of the forty CRPF bravehearts who laid down their lives in the Pulwama attack’ on 14 February, 2019, repeatedly brings out the dilemma and desperation of the Kashmiris like Bilal Ahmad Kuchay, Mudasir Ahmad Khan, alias MD of Jaish-e-Mohammad, who can’t surrender because of the strategy and network of ‘JeM’. The twenty year old Owais Amin Rather of Shopian in Kashmir, repeatedly appears to be a willy-nilly ‘fidayeen’, lured into the suicidal adventure of terrorism. On the other hand, the Pakistani masterminds keep attempting the utmost to remain in hiding, safe and plotting, using the young, teenaged and middle aged Kashmiri Muslims as firewood to keep their anthropophagous hearths warm.
At quite a few instances, the author has established degraded values of the ‘mujahideen’ though in public, they make every effort to rigorously enforce values like burkha for women, beards for men, five times prayers a day and essentially, zakaat for the ‘tehreek’.
The threat under which fearless journalists operate in Kashmir, like Shujat Bukhari who was killed by the terrorists, has been aptly mentioned
The book can form yet another absorbing plot for a Bollywood movie on the violent happenings in Kashmir. The story brings out the decisive and ruthless action by security forces against terror, only on basis of confirmed intelligence reports. The martyrdom of Rifleman Aurangzeb Khan of Indian armed forces acquaints the reader with the sense of duty coupled with restraint observed by security forces in the war against terror.
Seven of the twenty-seven characters in this thoroughly researched novel are Pakistanis and four of them have been reported killed in encounters by Indian forces while three have been charge sheeted, though absconding. Of the 20 characters from Kashmir, including a woman, five have been reported killed in encounters, thirteen (including the woman) arrested and two are absconding. Seven of the arrested are reportedly undergoing trial.
Amid all the moments of tension, suspense, making and fitting of bombs, blasts and gunfire, cordon and search, violence, the author literally and craftily takes the readers through the landscapes and seasons, cultures and crowds, occupation of people across the border and inside the country, along the border and along the drains, along the ditches and rivers and towns, along highways, cities, villages and bazaars of different kinds that are enchanting at times and depressing at others.
The involvement of transporters, agriculturists, carpenters, petty shopkeepers and entrepreneurs, students, poor and unemployed youth in establishment of an intricate network of terrorism by the foreign agents can be guessed through this book. However, more important is the counter intelligence by Indian security agencies aided by sheer luck as well as good destiny of general public that one can understand, as most of the terrorists are eliminated or apprehended before causing devastations of many times larger magnitude and numbers.
The author has genuine words of praise for the Dogra Maharajas and Government of India for implementing different development programmes in Jammu and Kashmir, but Umar, Adil and Sameer with their patrons across the border in Pakistan, stand out as villains of peace. These and the misguided youth like Burhan Wani have smeared the saffron fields of Kashmir with colour of blood and odour of flesh of their own kin.