The Book, “Proxy War: The Counter Moves”, by Sudip Talukdar is pitched as ‘a tribute to the men of Indian Army’. In this fictionalised portrayal of real-life events, the author shows how the underworld targets the men in olive green in order to demoralise and debilitate the force, but in the end, it is the Forces that impose retribution on them. In the larger context, narcotics emerges as the most diabolical dimension of the covert bid to undermine the nation. At another level, the plot demonstrates how seemingly innocuous acts or events can trigger unforeseen, long term consequences, prompting people to act, sometimes in ways that may threaten our world.
This novel brings out ‘proxy war’ in its more damaging avatar, in a manner seldom explored in fiction or the big screen—an all out ruthless campaign against the idea of India. These inimical groups use every subterfuge and stratagem to undermine the Indic civilisation and are relentless in their aim to subjugate the land under Ghazwa-e-Hind. The one pointed mission of the adversary, sitting right across the western borders, has sinister implications for the country.
On a more mundane level, the story revolves around a sinister drug mafia, which challenges the Indian Army in its own backyard, at the behest of Pakistan. For this inimical neighbour, this is a last-ditch stand. Having fought and lost four wars with India, in 1947, 1965, 1971 and in 1999, its use of terror as a tool of statecraft has also not yielded any dividends. So, it has now focused its attention to target military personnel with drugs and compromise them through substance abuse. The book visualises how such a scenario unfolds, involving the underworld cartel, amoral politicians and sponsors of terror, who come together to subvert the nation in a sinister bid for power or pelf or both, but not before invoking their nemesis, in the likeness of a no nonsense military commander.
Hypothetical as it may sound, the situation is not too implausible to be actually played out. Turning human beings into zombies, especially those wearing uniforms, would emerge as a more sinister aspect of the escalating proxy war. Already, the supply of drugs into Punjab from Pakistan has ruined the future of thousands of youths. Countless acts of mayhem, bomb blasts and depredations, since engineered by these masterminds, have already claimed the lives of more than 44,000 soldiers, civilians and security men alike, in the Valley. Such depredations went virtually unanswered even after 26/11, the most devastating terror attack on the soil of India.
The plot begins with an innocent foray into an abandoned mill which turns into a nightmare for a couple of 15-year-old school children, when they witness a horrific murder. This is the inciting event that spirals out of control, sparking a deadly covert war between two mighty forces, one adamant on subverting the country and the other equally sworn to defend it, until the final showdown. A truly gripping account, which holds the attention of the reader till the very end.
The book is also relevant and timely in the light of the recent developments wherein the Taliban has taken over control over Afghanistan. With China also flexing its muscles on India’s Northern border, there is likely to be renewed attempts by Pakistan’s ISI, to ratchet up trouble in India. The Pakistani deep state is getting increasingly anxious at the fast pace in which normalcy is returning to the Union territory of J&K after the revocation of the operative parts of Article 370 and is desperate to unleash the jihadi fervour of the hardened Taliban cadres, on Kashmir’s soil.
The author has also placed real characters with a military background in a fictional context and depicts how their personas play out in the game of high stakes and perilous risks, in lifelike situations, where ends justifies the means. Modestly priced, the book is recommended for light reading and relaxation.