Let’s be honest, I do not fancy reading about war or politics. I do not understand why people are so religiously driven to an extent they will slaughter people. I do not get why Indian Politics is so fixed on Kashmir and why can’t they see the people living there as humans alone and not a land to conquer. I will never understand the mindset in killing people and hopefully like most people do not support war and violence. And I cant seem to get myself to read about books based on these topics for how it affects my mental health
So then why did I pick up this book? Because I have grew up listening to the atrocities caused to Kashmiri Pandits. Not once about the aftermath. I grew up listening to Kashmir as a disputed land between two neighboring countries but not about the people still living there.
If you know anything about what is happening in India right now, you are aware that Kashmir was put on a complete lock down since August 2019 and still is. While the media and politicians conveniently focus on the atrocities done on one religion this book gives a first hand account about the other.
I can not imagine what the people there are going through – but this book will paint a pretty graphic picture for any one that has difficulty empathizing with humans and needs a break from their so called nationalism and religious pride. This instantly made it on the required reading list for me after I picked up Lajja and The Free Voice last month and hence I picked it up to educate myself more on the growing Kashmir Conflict and I am so glad I did.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
Since the independence of India, Kashmir has been a major concern for not just India but also the world. The issue of Kashmir still is a crucial issue discussed across forums in the global arena and is one of the major hindrances in improving relationship with India’s neighbour and kin of one time. Much has been written about Kashmir and the separatist movement in Kashmir. But the beautifully scripted account of the brutality with which the separatist movement is carried on till date has no precedence. The book, Curfewed Nights, gives an honest, crude, and truthful account of what goes on in the paradise of India which is under the spell of the separatist movement.
Every time Kashmir is discussed in India, the conversation is bound to get political. Most of the conversation that do occur will be about how the Kashmiri Pandits had to flea their own houses. While that is sad and should not have happened. Very few will feel remorse for the state Kashmir is in now or any of the Kashmiri Muslims.
When the Pulwama Attack happened, the narrative was how a Kashmiri militant was convinced to be a vessel to bomb the army. Yes, that is terrorism no denial there. However,I was left wondering how can someone be brainwashed to such an extent in the name of religion and land dispute to kill people? Why are they so against the Indian Government? I found the answer in this very book. Nothing that happened here is right. This forces the reader no matter which side you lean towards to think about what hatred and violence can result to.
This book talks about the endless massacres, the brutal killings and torture unleashed on innocent people, the poor health and education system in a place of war, the rapes by government officials and not to mention the impact of war on young children like the Author.
“Srinagar is a medieval city dying in a modern war. It is empty streets, locked shops, angry soldiers and boys with stones. It is several thousand military bunkers, four golf courses, and three bookshops. It is wily politicians repeating their lies about war and peace to television cameras and small crowds gathered by the promise of an elusive job or a daily fee of a few hundred rupees. It is stopping at sidewalks and traffic lights when the convoys of rulers and their patrons in armoured cars, secured by machine guns, rumble on broken roads. It is staring back or looking away, resigned. Srinagar is never winning and never being defeated.”Curfewed Night, Basharat Peer
The author shares a brief incident of how Muslims were looked with doubt after the Parliament Attack in 2001. He talks about how fickle the mind can get to fall prey to terrorism in such situations. It reiterates the importance of humanity to prevail regardless. I know my review will never make justice to this book and I am not going to try. But if there is one thing I want to share is how well this book presents the state of war and the collateral damage it does.
It is a personal story of the author who just like anyone of us loved to read books and watch movies. It’s about the people in Kashmir who just like any one else have dreams of their own. The difference? They live in Kashmir. They live in a place where lives have less to no importance against a piece of land and the religion.
One thing you need to know about this book which does not come as a surprise is that it is not easy to read. You will put down this book several times as the graphic descriptions of the atrocities in this book will leave your heart aching. It will remind you that nothing got better since then but ended up only getting worse. I still urge you to pick up this book especially if you claim to be a nationalist for it’s you who needs to embrace the burden of supporting a government with blood on its hands the most.
Published: January 1st 2009
Genre: Non Fiction | Memoir
Publisher: Random House