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EDIT/OP-ED
|| GREATER JAMMU || JAMMU, SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2012 ||

Greater

Jammu

'FAITH AND FRENZY'


BOOK REVIEW BY PROF R.N. KAUL

SUNDAY, AUGUST 12, 2012

EYE ON JAMMU
nprecedented security blanket was thrown over entire Jammu division in wake of Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Prasad's maiden visit to the city especially because of the ongoing festival season of Janamashtmi, Ramadan and forthcoming Independence Day celebrations. Friday kept cops on tenterhooks who were seen patrolling on roads throughout the day and keeping a hawk's eye on Jammu to avoid any untoward incident. Besides chairing two important meetings with his top police brass and representatives of Army, para-military, Intelligence agencies and civil administration the top cop did not forget to interact with civil society though the sphere of invitees remained confined to a select few only. He however made it a point to ensure that he gets first hand information about the prevailing security situation in Jammu division and his team's preparedness to deal with any eventuality. The issues of security, infiltration attempts, digging of tunnel into Indian territory on the International Border (IB) and law and order situation in the wake of Independence Day celebrations that had come up for discussions during the meetings though were of utmost importance some grey areas with regards to security set up still remained inconclusive. It was only during the Amarnath land row that police had started holding meetings with civil society on regular basis which stand discontinued for unknown reasons. We understand that in the given situation the entire concentration of security agencies is to seal borders, check infiltration, ensure smooth conduct of national and religious functions and maintain peace in the state but once these prime tasks in hand are finished the security agencies need to concentrate on other areas which are more or less public related issues and get ignored. Despite repeated warnings a good number of house owners are continuing to rent out their premises without police verifications, drugs have found their way into the schools and interiors of city, gambling is on rise, violators of traffic laws are continuing to rule the roost and most importantly number of fatal accidents on city roads are increasing with each passing day. In the given situation there is a need to get a proper feedback from civil society which is possible only if police revives its meetings with civilians. The regular and frequent interactions can help cops maintain a vigil and simultaneously curb the menace of drug peddling. Drugs and illegal trading have also started on Mughal Road because of no check post which needs to be reviewed after the Independence Day celebrations are over. The biggest menace likely to create chaos in the civil society is that of smuggling of bovine animals from Border States into Jammu and Kashmir State. This many a times had led to communal clashes as well. The cops need to check the smuggling of bovine animals in district Kathua for the reason that the area falls close to the Punjab border and smuggling takes place in this area alone. The cops had a number of achievements to their credit thus deserving patting on their backs but there remains still a lot to do for better policing in the state to ensure peace. Unnecessary barricades erected in the city areas also need to be removed for smooth flow of traffic which besides other issues we hope will be brought into the notice of top cop in due course of time for ensuring better law and order in our state.

o absorbingly fascinating is the book under review that in spite of passing away of my elder brother the day I received a copy, I got glued to its contents and finished its reading almost in one go. Many books have been written on the so-called Kashmir problem and on the present imbroglio and mayhem perpetrated by Jehadi fanatics guided and armed by Pakistan. Many on the traumatic sufferings, on the Kashmiri Pandits hounded out of their hearths and homes and on the self-inflicted deaths and miseries of Kashmiri Muslims. But "Faith and Frenzy" is a unique experiment in this direction. In contrast to earlier books on the holocaust and tragedy of Kashmir, K.L. Chowdhury's book strikes a conspicuous contrast. There have been lots of wailings, lots of vividly drawn pictures of the ruthless murders, rapes and arson perpetrated by the Muslim fanatics gone completely mad, on the Kashmiri Pandits driven out en masse beyond the Peer Panjal range of mountains. But when one goes through "Faith and Frenzy" all the previous attempts look like 'sound and fury' only. What marks this book as extraordinary is its sensitivity, its deep-felt pain translated into art. It is a sort of wedlock between Sensitivity and Aesthetics. Chowdhury has brought into a close embrace the Muse of History and the Muse of Imagination. Real events and real people have been so aptly fictionalized that one merges imperceptibly with the other. It is not only a coalescing of Reality and Illusion, of fact and fiction. There are other colourful threads woven into a fine fabric that is "Faith and Frenzy". Chowdhury harnesses his knowledge of psychology, psychiatry, of anatomy and of physiology in creating a thing of beauty and in making it a joy for ever from the artistic point of view alone. Chowdhury has selected, refined and embellished the raw material available to him through his personal experience. And there pervade above all the ingredients that make the book - a vague halo-may be as thin as gossamer - a vision of better times to come, of Kashmiriyat reasserting itself in all its pristine glory - after the catharsis of suffering. Kashmir-in fact Kashmiris - Muslims and Hindus - have passed through Dante's Inferno, done penance in the Purgatorio and are on the threshold of Paradiso. The cover picture a Kahmiri Muslim oaring forward a boat Containing Spring and Summer flowers - is symbolic enough of the fragrance of peace and amity that will follow. Chowdhury is a conscious artist capable of hiding his art in what looks a simple and spontaneous utterance. In his search for artistic excellence he does not lose any moment to describe the sufferings of his community. The stories "Faith and Frenzy" and 'A place to die' most faithfully and sensitively describe the miseries of Kashmiri Pandits catapulted from a lugubri-

ous climate and comfortable homes into extreme weathers of inhospitable terrains. The story of Shyamlal and his wife is most poignantly tragic. Shyamlal suffers both physically and mentally

Author: Dr KL Chowdhury Publisher: Vitasta Publishing House; New Delhi. Price: Rs. 250

because the militants are convinced of his sons being informers and hence enemies of the 'Tehrik for Azaadi' or in un-euphemistic terminology Islamic governance. Shyamlal providentially escapes the noose, is dragged into the river whose waves mercifully raft him to his home. Next morning he bids eternal farewell to his home. Similar is the story of 'A place to die' Brij Nath Daftari - a cancer patient - finds each place in Jammu out of bounds for patients with a terminal disease. He is tossed from pillar to post, from Sarwal to the interior city, to Nanak Nagar where a Sikh philanthropist offers him enough space to die in. When one follows the plots of the stones, one feels impressed how a medico by profession finds the technique to arouse curiosity and keep the reader in suspense till the end. And here and there Chowdhury introduces super touches to

suggest how Nature follows her chores with complete indifference to man's losses. While Shyam Lal is prostrate on the ground as good as dead, Chowdhury describes nature thus: "The clouds were moving languidly, the setting sun/( large and red - threw long shadows of the leafless trees, crisscrossing the field like dancing skeletons in a surreal play of light and shade. Dusk was descending fast and the birds were flitting across the sky to their nests ". One recollects how Rustum covered his tearful eyes over Sohrab's dead body killed by his own sire in ignorance. And the river Oxus flowed nonchalantly onwards to the sea. Since Chowdhury is portraying real human beings he has met, superficially it seems to be no remarkable skill to present them as live human beings. But remarkable it is because he has observed them very closely and exposed not only their physical appearances but also their eccentricities, giving each character a distinct individuality. He is like a portrait painter in words as Rembrandt was in colours. We not only meet and see Saligram or Gulla in flesh and blood; we seem to feel them and touch them. Saligram reminds one of Hugo's Causimodo of Notre -Dame with his tetrahedonal nose, his horse-shoe mouth, one eye under his bushy eyebrow and the other hidden by a wart. Gulla of Prang endears himself to us by his shy but frank aspect. All these additions show Chowdhury as an artist of humour which he introduces as a foil. When Saligram meets a Kishtwar woman with three children, Chowdhury describes it thus: "A cackling mother hen gave Saligram the creeps". Chowdhury has converted real experience into the literary genre called the short story. He has succeeded to a large extent in utilizing all the artistic paraphernalia to make each story grip the reader's attention. There is a dramatic start, a quick movement of the plot; there is suspense and an expected climax or an anti - climax. There may not be an O' Henry touch at the end. Chowdhury prefers to leave the surprise end to the imagination of the reader. But the best quality of the book is revealed in the author's complete grasp of the English language, its nuances, its rhythms, its Bible like simplicity, its rich vocabulary. And here is Chowdhury with a vocabulary which is rich in its crispness, in its appropriateness and in its rhythmical variety. Chowdhury has acquired a style absolutely mature and elegant. And one more point before I conclude this rather long review. I have had the honour to review all the books written by Chowdhury, following his strict instructions to be objective and not hagiolistic like some sycophants comparing him to Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Some of my reviews have generated some annoyance. But I am happy to note that I have proved a catalytic agent to help Chowdhury reach restrained maturity. The book is a must for lovers of facts as well as for lovers of fiction.

Tough road ahead for Anna


KAMLENDRA KANWAR here is justifiable scepticism and many questions are being raised over the announcement by Anna Hazare that his campaign for a Lokpal Bill will now assume the shape of a political movement. People in general, especially the middle class, are fed up of politics and politicians and had lent support to Anna Hazare's crusade against corruption in public life essentially because they saw in him a messiah of hope who held the moral high ground to teach the politicos a lesson or two. For a time, despite being all of 75 years, Anna fired the imagination of the youth, who were groping for a role model. Now, 16 months after the Anna crusade started, there is a tinge of disappointment after doubts were raised about the integrity of some of Anna's prime supporters. There is a recognisable sense of resignation that Anna's dream of a corruption-free or corruption-reduced environment was turning out to be but a pipe dream. Amid all this the stock of politicians in general has continued to go down. Even a man like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was looked upon as one with an unimpeachably high level of integrity, is today seen as one who condones corruption so as to remain in the saddle. What is echoing in many wellmeaning minds is a strong perception that Team Anna will be unsuited for today's politics because it does not know the 'art of swimming in the muck'. Says active team member and former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde: "Anna Hazare has championed the cause against corruption. Of course, people hate corruption, but then that hatred does not convert into votes. I do not think they have experience in the political field. One needs to swim in the muck to be successful in politics and I don't think they have the expertise to do so." In a recent interview he elaborated on this: "To enter politics, one needs a lot of money, manpower and workers who have the expertise to go door-to-door to

seek votes. Anna Hazare's team does not have all these. In my opinion, joining politics is a bad idea." Congressmen are thrilled to bits that the charge that many among them had been making - that Team Anna's crusade is a product of partisan politics - may now stick. However, the more exultation that the likes of Kapil Sibal, Manish Tiwari and Digvijay Singh show, the more would be the sense of disgust of people against these

the fast-unto-death that they had committed themselves to. Unlike the last time when Anna's fast propelled the government into overdrive to have him call it off, this time it was unconcerned. Perhaps, the government was encouraged by the visible lack of enthusiasm that characterised the Mumbai campaign a few months ago and the recent lukewarm response at Jantar Mantar. Team Anna realised that there was no escape from a retreat and

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Piscean tragedy an eye opener


Dear Editor, The recent catastrophe that caused the death of thousands of fish of Nigeen Lake in a day has exposed the highest degree of insensitivity of the human beings towards other creatures of fauna least bothering about the long term disastrous consequences which the future generations shall face on this count. Since the day this tragedy struck, all the concerned departments started playing the blame game throwing the ball into others' courts. All the speculations have now come to rest with the Fisheries and Limnological experts of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences (SKUAST) Kashmir having said that high mortality was mainly caused due to change in the physico-chemical parameters of Nigeen waters propelled by high pollution levels. After comprehensive scientific tests it has been found that Nigeen Lake is almost euthrophic having high concentration of organic matter. The dropped dissolved Oxygen level proved fatal especially for some species of the Piscean world in this lake. Only Schizothorax species remained unaffected by the process as it prefers to move around springs and cleaner parts of the lake. This catastrophe should serve as an eye opener for the whole humanity especially those living in Jammu and Kashmir State who keep tinkering with the ecological balance in this Himalayan state. This tragedy is definitely a man-invited disaster. Through the medium of this newspaper I appeal to the sane citizenry of this state to accord topmost priority to maintaining ecological balance by reducing the pollution levels failing which there is likelihood of our falling prey to a similar catastrophe in the coming time. The earlier we realise this the better it is. Prof Ruby Zutshi, Kashmir University, Srinagar.

Please send your valuable responses at editorgreaterjammu@gmail.com

arrogant political bigwigs. Said Union minister Kapil Sibal in his acerbic style: "First, they (Team Anna) took support of the people by acting innocent and then used the media to create uproar. Then they announced their decision to join politics. They are the real politicians. They can manipulate people and play with their emotions." Not many would agree with Sibal's jaundiced approach. The Congress has so utterly exposed itself by postponing the setting up of a Lokpal that Congress protestations are taken with a pinch of salt. Evidently, Anna Hazare and his team are not entirely convinced that there is merit in taking the political route. Their wellwishers are divided down the middle. The sudden announcement of a political plunge had a lot to do with finding an escape route from

one way it could be shown to be a tactical and well-thought-out strategy was if the campaign was transformed into a political movement with a dramatic announcement so that the media starts talking about the politics of it while keeping off the capitulation aspect. Rather strangely, Anna Hazare has announced the disbanding of his core team. While Arvind Kejriwal has denied that there is any rift in Team Anna, an element of confusion has crept in on where Anna's team stands vis--vis him. Talking of fighting an election as a political party is one thing, finding the right kind of candidates, getting them elected with limited resources and while maintaining high moral standards is quite another. Many a well-intentioned crusader has fallen by the wayside trying to wade through the muddy and turbulent waters of

our politics. Congressmen had been daring Team Anna to enter the electoral fray and come out triumphant. By falling into that trap, the team has, in a sense, endorsed the fallacious view that one needs to be in politics to fight the system. As a result, civil society has indeed lost a bit of its lustre. With barely two years to go before the next general elections, converting the good intentions of Anna and his team into electoral victories will be no mean task. Team Anna would have to strive to win back the trust of the media which, in the initial stages of the campaign, was building the movement up in quest of higher TRP ratings but somewhere along the way gave up on Anna and turned soft towards the government. Kiran Bedi indicated in a TV interview recently that Team Anna would fan out to the length and breadth of the country and get back to Anna with feedback on what the people want - a political movement or a non-political one. It is then that Anna Hazare would give final instructions on whether India Against Corruption is converting itself into a political entity. Anna Hazare and his team will now need to strategise on the steps they intend taking. There is no doubt that organising a flop rally in Mumbai at a time when the government was on the back-foot emboldened the Congress to put the Lokpal Bill on the backburner. The flip-flop over associating with the likes of Baba Ramdev and Swami Agnivesh also did not go down well with many of Anna Hazare's well-meaning supporters. Making public statements casting aspersions on the institution of Parliament and painting all politicians black was a dubious strategy. It's not all over for the Team Anna crusaders. All of them would have to show high standards of integrity now that the public and media focus on them would be unrelenting. Their strategising will need to be more thorough and even if they put up a handful of their men as candidates in the 2014 elections these would have to be people whose conduct and probity are unimpeachable.

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