Book Review: Kashmir as I See It by Ashok Dhar

Kashmir as I See It
Author: Ashok Dhar
Publisher: Rupa Publishers
Rating: 4/5

Kashmir has been a pivotal point of dispute for many decades. Whether it is about the land or religion or rights or faiths- Kashmir always suffers at the hands of people who refuse to align their thoughts and actions with others. Battening down the hatches, the locals are the true heroes who keep the sanity and sanctity of this paradise alive and survive under the permanent cloud of fear. ‘Kashmir as I See It’ is a personal account of Dhar that throws light on the transformation that the valley has gone through in terms of culture, people, mindsets and freedom.

Dhar remembers Kashmir as the place which encouraged people of all faiths and religions to come together and live in harmony. In fact, he quotes that Kashmiriyat, as a religion, advocated composite cultures where Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh- all lived in accord. Lal Ded, the great Kashmiri mystic poetess, too, preached that there shouldn’t be any discrimination between a Hindu and a Muslim. The people of Kashmir didn’t let the toxicity of society infect them. ‘Lihaaz’ for the experienced was of utmost priority. Discrimination of people on the basis of their caste or faith was out of the question.

Genuine and deeply moving, ‘Kashmir as I See It’ explores the plethora of problems- tangible and intangible- that has engulfed everyone in the valley. Divided into sections, the book also highlights the fact that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which was once considered to be richly blessed with natural beauty, has now become the safe haven for militants who preach violence in the name of Islam. The role of political parties is no less. Their subtle agendas that aim for personal growth rather than the growth of the state are equally responsible for the current state of the state!

In the last section of this book, the author, very audaciously, brings forth the real concern- which is not the religious conflict at large- but all other factors that contribute in the alienation of people from the land owing to external discriminating factors. The narrative gives you unadulterated moments of guilt and sadness at the same time. While the exquisite beauty that lies hidden in the breast of this valley allures you, the terror that comes along with the decision of being a part of ‘Kashmiriyat’ is daunting!

It is saddening to see the state of people in Kashmir where their world crumbles before their eyes. Dhar’s personal growth and his estrangement from the land where he grew up, drive the pace of the narrative.

Overall, ‘Kashmir as I See It’ offers the first-hand experience of a person who knows every nook and corner of the valley. Intelligently written, this novella is quite different from what is already there in the market. A must-read for all those who still have an open-mind to learn more about Kashmir.

Best Wishes to the author!

Buying Link: Amazon

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