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Mainstream, Vol. XLVIII, No 38, September 11, 2010

Dissecting Identity Politics in J&K and Around

Friday 17 September 2010, by Humra Quraishi

BOOK REVIEW

Identity Politics in Jammu and Kashmir
edited by Rekha Chowdhary; published by Vitasta Publishing, New Delhi; pages: 470; Price: Rs 695, US $ 26.45.

In these last few days I have been reading and re-reading this volume in the backdrop of the anger spilling out on the very streets of Srinagar and adjoining locales. Needless to say that this anger wasn’t built up overnight but has been simmering over the last decades. Twenty years back it had burst out in the form of a revolt that lay suppressed, but the political rulers-cum-security experts preferred to call it ‘controlled’. No, it wasn’t controlled but suppressed. Till about this summer when political shortsightedness coupled with those blatant killings of teenagers and even children couldn’t really hold back that anger, that surcharged disgust, the very revolt against the establishment…

AND this time it would be a folly of the worst order to churn up theories or counter-theories or to sit in a state of complete denial of those ground realities. In fact, coupled with this is the fact that few amongst us are actually aware and literate of the political backgrounders of that region. In fact, it’s time to begin getting literate. And this recently released volume—Identity Politics in Jammu and Kashmir—carries a range of essays which focus on the various aspects related to the Valley and around. Edited by Professor Rekha Chowdhary, it carries essays of Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Badri Raina, Balraj Puri, Ershad Mahmud, Gul Muhammad Wani, Krishna Misri, Lalit Gupta, Mohammad Ishaq Khan, Mohammad Ashraf Wani, Neera Chandhoke, Pramathesh Raina, P.S. Verma, Ravinder Jit Kaur, Riyaz Punjabi , Shyam Kaul, Sonam Chosjor, Vibhuti Ubbott, Yoginder Sikand.

And as the very title bares, this volume takes you through every aspect related to Jammu and Kashmir in terms of the very identity politics and its offshoots and the consequences that unfold. In fact, what could be termed as a complete study in terms of the outreach is the fact that this volume does take you beyond the set locales of Jammu and the Kashmir Valley and focuses on Ladakh and even Pakistan Administered Kashmir. And with that a compre-hensive volume, which could be of substantial value for those who are genuinely serious about studying the very issue of identity politics in that region.

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