Book Review Kashmir Rage and Reason
Why I picked this book?

Kashmir: Rage and Reason as is evident from the title of the book, talks about the rage that is there in the Kashmir valley and the possible reasons for it. Coming from a journalist who was born and spent his childhood in Kashmir and witnessed the ugly side of the violence, the book promised to be informative and stimulating. Kashmir is one subject on which there are many narratives floating around, and it takes an effort to get unbiased or genuine views and information, be it about the present situation or the past. I try to read as much as I can the work of people who have seen, experienced and witnessed the violence from both sides; the pro-azadi militants and the armed forces of India.

the book

Kashmir: Rage and Reason, the preface of the book sets the tone of what to expect. The author born and brought up in Kashmir vividly remember his childhood days before the early 1990s, when pro-azadi sentiments were not so strong among the Kashmiris. Their childhood was having fun, preparing tehri, stealing mugs of rice from their home to cook it with turmeric in an earthen pot by setting tiny twigs on fire. Theft of apples and almonds from orchards, making coconut ice-creams in winters playing cricket. All this changed after 1989 and songs of azadi and pro-independence became a norm. He talks about how things have changed, and violence engulfed the Kashmir valley, the rise of pro-azadi militants, the increase presence of armed forces in the valley, and along with that increase of violence from both sides and in the process the victims usually were the common people of Kashmir.

The author remembers the song jaago jaago subah hui/fateh ka parcham lehraya and how it connected with all Kashmiris. There was always a soft corner for Pakistan among the people of Kashmir, especially south Kashmir, and the areas close to border. The author says post 1989, with some groups calling for a union with Pakistan and other calling for independence an armed resistance was broken in Kashmir against Indian government. The kids growing up in valley during these times learned new words and phrases like curfew, crackdown, cordon, custody killing, catch-and-kill, torture, interrogation, arrest, detention, and disappearance. Young children were exposed to violence and were angry by the armed forces frisking them, asking them to prove their identity, throwing their school bags, asking them to do push ups as punishment and throwing abuses at them.

The book tells the readers that the generation growing up in the 90s have seen violence and killings of Kashmiri people, their own family members and as they grew older, they got to know the terms like fake encounter, extrajudicial killing, custodial disappearance, and mass graves. The point that the author trying to make is that this generation has only seen violence, killings, oppression while growing up and that is the reason that they have so much rage in them.

The author provides a detailed analysis of the killing of Burhan Wani and his associates by the armed forces. He tells us the heroic status of Wani was a result of people’s acceptance of independence of Kashmir, there may be faction who wants to merge with Pakistan or stay independent, but one thing is for sure people do not want to be with India. Burhan symbolized that young Kashmiris wants independence and they are fed up with political solution is no where to be seen. The open support he got at his funeral tells us that what common Kashmiri thinks and wishes for. In an estimate around two lakh people were there in Burhan Wani’s funeral procession, which tells a lot about the mood of the people of Kashmir.

The book tries to bring forth the reason for the rage and anger among the Kashmiri people towards the Indian government. There are many instances and examples cited by the author which contribute to the current narrative and mood of the Kashmiri people. The author also throws light on the role the media has played in the whole thing. How on one hand the media and its voice is suppressed in Kashmir and on the other hand the media in New Delhi portrays Kashmir in a particular way that suits the narrative of the central government.

Kashmir : Rage and Reason is a thought provoking read and the reader comes out as more informed and educated about the current situation and aspirations of Kashmiri people.

About The Author

Gowhar Geelani is a broadcast journalist, political analyst and commentator currently based in Srinagar. For several years he served Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) as editor in Bonn, Germany. The author is a South Asia Journalism Programme (SAJP/Chevening Fellow (2015) and Munich Young Leader (2014) and writes for the BBC, Race and Class, Dawn, CNN IBN, and several international media outlets. Besides, he regularly appears as Kashmir expert and political commentator on television channels, including the BBC World, NDTV 24/7, CNN News 18, India Today, Wion, and India Ahead News.

Our Verdict

Kashmir : Rage and Reason is an informative read on Kashmir, that tries to find out the reasons behind the anger, the ongoing violence and pro-azadi sentiments of Kashmiri people. A very well written book that gives the readers a perspective of what is happening is Kashmir and how things have changed over a period of time from someone who was born and brought up in Kashmir and has experienced and witnessed everything firsthand.

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