The Jammu & Kashmir issue resonates across India and across the world too, but for the most part, it is the narrative peddled by Pakistan which gets highlighted. Within India, the Nehruvian paradigm has so dominated the public discourse that few have dared to see Jammu and Kashmir outside the framework of Hindu- Muslim relations or India-Pakistan relations. This is a wholly artificial construct. As rightly stated by the Editor, Sandhya Jain, “A veil of darkness shrouds Indian political discourse with respect to the state of Jammu and Kashmir”. This book attempts to set the narrative right, by delving into issues and territories that have been allowed to lie dormant and never ever brought into the limelight. It looks at the state of J&K beyond the framework of the Nehruvian construct and charts out a bold new course for policy formulation.
The book covers various facets, `starting with a discourse on ‘The Geo-strategic Significance of Jammu and Ladakh’. This backgrounder sets the stage for the rest of the book, through its overview of the regions of Jammu and Ladakh, their history and determined loyalty to India and their impact on the fortunes of the country. It highlights Pakistani concerns and sense of vulnerability with respect to the water sharing arrangement with India through the Indus Water Treaty and also provides in depth insights into the Siachen and Kargil wars—two wars that average Indians do not associate with Ladakh.
In other chapters, the book takes on aspects of history, covering the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh and the accession of the state to India. It also delves into contemporary burning issues of the Muslim Rohingya settlements in Jammu and the case study of Rassana, a girl child who was murdered and whose death was made into a conspiracy theory, setting the region into religious turmoil. This came to be known as the Kathua rape case. The case is further discussed in another chapter, which brings out the real issues that plague the state and the larger political-demographic struggle of the region along with the political games of Kashmir based parties.
The book offers a fresh perspective and understanding of the issues that plague the state of J&K, which would be of use to all military personnel, civil administrators and the lay public. It attempts to give a fleshed out identity to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, effectively moving it out of the limits of the valley and the fake narratives which have thus far shrouded the region.
`Ms Nidhi Bahuguna is a social media activists and writes on geo- politics and Jammu and Kashmir.