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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 50 December 9, 2023

Ghosal’s Review of The Lone Wolf by Neha Dwivedi

Saturday 9 December 2023



Review by Joydip Ghosal

The Lone Wolf
The Untold Story of the Rescue of Sheikh Hasina
by Neha Dwivedi

Penguin Veer
ISBN: 9780143452720

Neha Dwivedi was the daughter of a Kargil martyr. After her father’s untimely demise she found solace in writing. She is a child feeding specialist and child birth educator. She deeply believes in inspirational healing power of stories. Her book The Lone Wolf : The Untold Stories of Rescue of Sheikh Hasina is a moving testament of her deep regards towards the soldiers who courageously fought for the honour of the nation. This book delves deeper into the life of Col Ashok Tara who rescued Sheikh Hasina and the family of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from imminent death. Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo, author of 1971: stories of grit and glory from the Indo-Pak war aptly said that every citizen of India and Pakistan needs to know the stellar part this brave officer played. His supreme courage and metal focus not only rescued the family members of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman but also cemented the relationship between two countries. While reading the book we come across the leitmotif that fear is just the state of mind. Its genesis is in mind. It needs to be destroyed there. At the age of nine while returning from school he had a chance encounter with a wolf. He stared back at the snarling wolf and wolf turned back. This experience stood him in good stead throughout his life. This moniker lone wolf stands for Ashok Tara’s intrepid nature and commitment towards nation.

The author touches upon the important aspects of the then East Pakistan’s history while bringing the life of Colonel Ashok Tara to the sportlight. She deftly narrated the important events of his life interspersing that with the upheavals that defined the path breaking trajectories of Bangladesh.

Sheikh Mujibur Raan put forward a charter of demand in 1966 which was popularly known as ‘six-point movement.’ West Pakistan dubbed the movement as a ploy by Mujib to incite discontent in the country. In order to bring forth the historical perspective the author discussed the wide ramifications of the cyclone Bhola. Nature’s fury ravaged the coastal areas. New York Times reporter Sydney H. Schanberg and Howard Whitten of Guardian portrayed the heartbreakingly tragic tales caused by that devastating cyclone.

Bangladeshi freedom fighters also faced repression and indescribable atrocities. ‘Operation Searchlight ’ launched by Pakistani authorities was apparently aimed at neutralizing the militias. According to the author defence forces were unleashed against the very people they were supposed to defend.

But the conscience of the world stood in solidarity with the Bengali masses. In August 1972 , forty thousands people gathered in Madison Square Garden to acknowledge the severe trials and tribulations of Bengali people. Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the band Badfinger along with Ali Akbar and Ravi Shankar performed to garner support for people of Bangladesh.

When the liberation was inching towards its end Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family faced precarious situation. Pakistan army made them captive. At that time Col Ashok Tara , then a twenty – nine – year old major played a stellar role. He was assigned the task of rescuing the family members. Ashok Tara entered their den unarmed and negotiated with the hostile enemy soldiers in order to secure the release of the family that included Sheikh Hasina.

This book throws light on the little known chapter of South Asian History that speaks of the burgeoning relationship between the two countries. Neha Dwivedi deftly delineates the humble beginning and life-altering experience of Colonel Ashok Tara. We get a holistic perspective as the author presents the blow by blow account of the seminal events of South – Asian History. It requires tremendous craftsmanship to create the confluence where individual’s bravery and a nation’s quest for freedom is merged.

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