Kashmir remains to be a popular subject for many writers. Their interest in Kashmir isn’t limited to writing a non-fictional account of the long-drawn conflict. But it has also fuelled a thousand imaginations of fiction writers who aren’t apologetic about traversing the world of fantasy and reality at the same time. One such work is Rashtriya by Mihir Ujjainwal. It is a fictional account of terrorism in Kashmir where protagonist is Major Adritya from the famous Rashtriya Rifles. Ujjainwal’s book tells the story of Adritya’s own personal demons situated within the larger plot of human trafficking and terrorism in Kashmir which this hero takes on.
This book will be an excellent addition to the must-read list of those youngsters who don’t follow current affairs or read serious fiction. It takes them on a short journey to the theatre of Kashmir where soldiers are the heroes and terrorists are the bad guys. In light of the fact that there is a tendency within mainstream media to portray terrorists as good boys with even their funerals becoming a matter of celebration off-late, Rashtriya is a good break. It doesn’t mince words when it calls them out and points to how Kashmir has been reduced to a lifeless version of itself because of the violence done by terrorists against civilians.
That all said, the book suffers from a number of issues especially for those who are ardent readers and can tell good fiction from bad fiction. The plot is nice, storyline interesting but author seems to be in a hurry as he doesn’t develop his characters in detail. Or maybe the book just has too many characters. The same is true for technical details which on one hand are helpful in explaining working of the military to even a layman but on the other hand take away emotions out of this prose.
It is the second book by Mihir where his first is a collection of poems, “Kashmir Calls”. Book definitely suffers from poor copyediting with paragraphs starting without a capital letter in the first sentence. This shows poorly on the quality of the work but the diligence in research as demonstrated by Mihir at a tender age compensates for it.
You may pick the book if you wish to read about the horrendous stories of sex trade, human trafficking and corrupt politicians in Kashmir. When it comes to highlighting the evils that Indian Army faces, this book does a really good job.
Rashtriya, Mihir Ujjainwal, 258 pages, Authorspress, Rs. 295
Dr. Monica Verma is a PhD in International Relations from South Asian University. Her research focuses on South Asia, Political Economy and Indian Politics. She tweets at: @trulymonica..