Saturday, December 25, 2010

Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer

Curfewed Night by Basharat Peer is the story of love & war in the valley of Kashmir. It is a much welcomed book, as most of what has been known to the world about Kashmir has been through the eyes of foreign writers. As in the book Peer himself states this missing gap he felt as a student Delhi while visiting book stores.
The book brings to the reader the conflict of Kashmir from the perspective of the Kashmiris instead of focusing on just the political haggle between Pakistan & India. The reader is taken through the different time periods from the author’s child hood to his adulthood & the permanent changes that took place in the valley & its people.  

Peer was only 13 in 1990 when Indian troops fired on pro-independence Kashmiris &, as he puts it, "the war of my adolescence started". A war, that hasn't ended, though it has changed shape considerably in the last 20 years.

Fighting and dying for freedom was as desired as the first kiss on adolescent lips." When he was 14, Peer & his friends approached the commander of the separatist group JKLF & asked to be signed up. The commander turned them away. His family heard about the incident & intervened. His father giving him the option of waiting for a few years thinking about it & then decide, if he wanted to join the fight. In the meantime he should study as educated men led rebellions as stated in the history, his father commented. This intervention was something Basharat was grateful for when he how life changed for his fellow young men.

By this time life in the Kashmir valley was burdened for everyone, from old to young children. Military checkpoints were everywhere, & humiliation & abuse from the Indian security forces towards the Kashmiri residents became an integral part of life. Many parents, including Peer's, sent their children away to finish their education away from the valley.

After completing his education & working in Delhi for a brief period Peer decides to return home; as a journalist seeing that no one was able to shelter from the damage of the war; Muslims & the Kashmiri Pandits. The loss of humanity in this conflict has never been given its deserved consideration.

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