Book Review: Kashmir by Saifuddin Soz

Book Name: Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle

Author: Saifuddin Soz

Publisher: Rupa

Rating: 4.9/5

Book Blurb: In Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle, one of the most prominent voices of Kashmir, Saifuddin Soz takes a passionate and compelling look at the past, present and future of a vastly misunderstood people. Throughout its long, diverse, distinctive but scarred history, the beautiful and bountiful land of Kashmir has captured the imagination of travelers, kings, historians and nations. From its origins as an ancient civilization, to embracing Islam, to fighting invaders, to ruthless militancy, and the ensuing action by the Indian army; Kashmir has seen it all. Kashmiris fought the Mughals, the Afghans and the Sikhs in the past. However, it was their fight against Dogra autocracy that ultimately led to their disillusionment with the Indian establishment. With Pakistan feeding the emotions of deeply alienated and disenchanted people and the Indian government using force and taking a harder stand by the day, this unique culture now stands completely besieged. What is the future of Kashmir, then? What is the destiny of its people? Can there be solution to the weary problem confronting Kashmir? Can Kashmir reconcile with the past for a better future? Can the Valley return to a life of dignity, peace and development? How? Saifuddin Soz discusses these questions and provides credible and implementable solutions to end the grave crisis.

Review: Saifuddin’s history book on Kashmir attempts to capture the region right from Rajatarangini to the contemporary period. Kashmir has had a rich civilization of its own with its unique culture that has been captured wonderfully in this book.

The author starts from Rajatarangini’s account and moves down to the Afghan rule, the Sikh rule, the turbulent years in Kashmir and attempts to record each event diligently. Also included are some lesser known accounts such as that of Sir Richard Temple who was the secretary at the time to the government of India.

Usually, most history books in India sing grand praises of the eras gone by and much of contemporary Indian history is hardly deliberated upon. Perhaps the authors do not wish to suffer the wrath of their political masters and shy away from discussing contemporary Indian history. However, Saifuddin Soz has discussed the contemporary period and the post-independence Indian period of Kashmir’s history. He has even gone one step further and suggested a way forward to the Kashmir issue. coming from someone who knows the issue first hand, this is a very welcome step.

“In my opinion, it is futile to look to the UN for any workable help for the resolution of the dispute as the powers holding the authority of veto have all along responded to the situations keeping their own strategic interests in view.”

More such accounts from Kashmir are needed to build a narrative in favour of the common population because it is the common people of Kashmir that have suffered the most due to the militancy problem. It is for them alone that a solution needs to be arrived at.

I was thinking of criticising the book for lack of pictures but it has a collection of some beautiful snaps that complete this book. Surely, a book that can be stored as a collectible classic.

This is perhaps the best concise book on Kashmir available in the market.

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