Wednesday, 27 July 2016

KASHMIR Scars of Pellet Gun by Mannan Bukhari | Partridge Publishing India

The book titled KASHMIR Scars of Pellet Gun authored and compiled by a prominent Kashmir-based human rights defender Mannan Bukhari is the first of its kind to be written on the subject, and contains the details of horror caused by the use of pellet Gun in Indian controlled Kashmir Valley. By dent of his hard work, the author is unique among the contemporary thinkers, whose incisive thought has a great deal of attention both here & abroad.

Reliving his experiences and endless dialogue with the people of his land, which one has not seen so far; one find his emotional attachment to it the way author has presented book with the starting of reminiscent of 1990 when the armed struggle against illegal brutal occupation of India was on surge and has also highlighted that 70,000 people have been killed, nearly 8,000 have been subjugated to enforced disappearance, and thousands have been raped. Mannan has also presented a fleeting look of 2010 civil unrest and the unjustified killings and arrests.

Pellet guns were introduced in Kashmir as non-lethal alternative to quell the pro freedom demonstrations after more than 130 demonstrates were killed by the police and paramilitary in firing during 2008, 2009 and  2010 unrest. Since its introduction in Kashmir in 2010, the 'deadly' Pump Action Shotgun or Pellet Gun is a preferred weapon used on civilians, including protesters and bystanders, alike.
The book is divided into eight chapters which includes information acquired through RTI, medical practitioner’s experiences and observations on pellet caused injuries and fatalities, stories of some of the survivors, accounts of family members, thereby unveiling the lethality of so-called non-lethal weapons. Highlighting “The Brutal Face of Suppression283-page book makes it clear that pellets have caused unprecedented horror to survivors; there are the cases of lost vision, crippling lung, chest, and facial injuries. The age group 13 -30 has been the worst hit of this deadly weapon.
The beauty of the book, published by Partridge India, A Penguin Random House Company, that is a leading publication house, has cover page photo of a real X-Ray of a human skull maimed with pellets, all deep in the eyes, bones and brains which clearly indicates the lethality of the weapon which government is claiming to be non-lethal.
According to the book, the medicos treating the pellet victims in Srinagar find pellets deadlier than bullets. The surgeons often say a bullet hits one or two organs but a pellet damages multiple organs that too with multiple perforations.
By taking the work seriously the fraction in book documents a study conducted by SK Institute of Medical Science, Soura Kashmir, which divulged that from June 2010 to September 2010 alone, pellet gun fire have caused death of at least six persons, severely injured 198 persons and five persons according to report have lost their eyesight following the pellet injuries. 
The book also highlights the continuous fear of State machinery especially intelligence agencies as a result of which many families prefer to treat their victims in private clinics as in Government Hospitals they fear being rounded up by intelligence agents and fear from police to register cases against pellet victims under section of sedition and waging war against state.

Although a large number of pellet injury victims have not even been part of protests as their narration reveals that how they were just hit in a targeted manner. As revealed in the book the families of the pellet affected youth face shortage of financial resources and as a result the treatment of victims has been stalled.
It is heart wrenching to read how youth left their homes but never came back, but with the pierced bodies busted with pellets by government forces. They promised to come back to their parents but came in coffins. 
The Judgment of the State Human Rights Commission obtained through RTI Act by the author, substantiates the author’s stand and says, “..From the report, it is clear that the deceased and the injured were completely innocent civilians but for the misadventure and unbridled powers exercised by CRPF personnel a precious life has been lost and the present subject has sustained permanent disability. The incident is an example which shows that many innocent civilians have unnecessarily lost their lives only because the Security forces had run amok and were not subjected to any command or control.”
The author presents the haunted baggage of the victims who were injured in this chaos and could not even receive proper medical attention. Their parents did not have a single penny than to fulfill the last wish of their dying children, of eating an ice-cream. How these scars can let their parents to live in peace?    

The author has also highlighted the worst condition of pellet sufferers who have been subjugated to complete vision disability, many are mentioned there who have faced excesses by forces, some of them have been blinded, some of them have disfigured.

The author supplies an in-depth analysis of various aspects of the problems faced by the victims and their families. The heart rending accounts shared by the victims, their families and the details provided by the doctors who have treated these pellet gun victims is bone chilling for a reader.

The two defining aspects of the book are that it has one focused on statistics and has also featured the prominent works by other writers. The book from page no 89 to 168 documented the articles from renowned journalists and they have severely criticized the use of pellet gun on innocent civilians. By documenting these articles which have appeared in different publications including New York Times, Mannan in other words claims that this act of suppression and brutality occurred before the eyes of the world and still nothing happened.
The author has presented R.T.I Reports from different hospitals of the valley and from this statistics we have come to know that from a minor public healthcare facility to a major hospital of the valley all have received scores of patients suffering from pellet injuries since its use from 2010 by government forces. It also offers medical research articles prepared by renowned doctors of the valley.
Gautam  Navalakha in his foreword of “ Kashmir Scars of Pellets Gun’’ has depicted it as a book which tells you records and documents, what befell people at the hands of Indian occupation forces, when the military forces turned “non-lethal”. And in so doing it further lends credence to the body of literature about the hideous aspect of ‘War to win Hearts’, where not just hearts but minds are target of attack.”

According to Gautam Navalakha a prominent human rights activist, “the significance of this book, lies in collection and collating of data acquired through RTI as well as based on medical practitioners own experience and observations on pellet caused injuries and fatalities. It is stories of some of the survivors, accounts of family members and others that recalls real life happenings as they unfold and their aftermath. It is the everydayness of this happening, the real events and those involved. It is told simply and lucidly. But in the end it is much more than that.”

From this book ‘Kashmir Scars of Pellet Gun’ we came to know that author has worked with his full enthusiasm to get data via RTI and has visited continuously to the pellet gun victims across the valley. The author has also documented static’s and data to support the argument that the use of pellet gun is a crime against humanity. A detailed account of the havoc created by the deadly pellet gun in Kashmir Valley is shown in readable and entertaining style.

Overall, the book is effective, because of its sensational, horrific but unique subject matter. The author has done admirable job and the style of writing is brilliant and a stunning work by the author Mannan Bukhari that touches your heart to the core. The book is memorable and powerful, and as evidenced by its appealing title “Kashmir Scars of Pellet Gun” and wonderful Teaser/ Tagline “The brutal face of suppression, has successfully succeeded in bringing to the world a story previously largely unknown, denied, or ignored. This book would surely mark the beginning of a new chapter in the history of use of pellet gun on humans, Suppression and Kashmir. As such, it stands as a success. This book will challenge our way of thinking, bring tears to our eyes and screws us with the unexpected sufferings of the victims and their families.

Reviewed by Saba Shah
Saba Shah is a social activist and a freelancer. She can be emailed at: 

Are You Right For Me? by Andrew G. Marshall | Bloomsbury

A common boast among the youth today regarding relationships is “I deserve better”. Actually this has become a college slang these days, but looking beyond the childish notions of relationship, there is a major section of couples who are facing the same kind of dilemma in there serious, long and well established relationships, the rescuer named Andrew G. Marshall, addresses such complicated questions and offers the solution, wrapped in the layer of a better and healthy relationship. 

The book “Are You Right For Me?” offers a seven step principle, in understanding and getting clarity and commitment in relationships. This book will surely help those who think that something is not correct between two of them and also those who are trying to find the perfect soulmates for them. Written in an interactive and lucid way, without getting trapped in technicalities, it describes various issues on relationships with real life examples, of true couples, who faced the same kind of situation and drives you towards a better choice. When the life is so fast now and we have scarcity of even time, then it is obvious to get directionless but Marshall with his brilliance as marital therapist can show the path, vividly.

This book is worth reading once for everyone, because at some or the other point in life all of us face exactly the same kind of questions as mentioned in this book. The tough and dilemma centric issues on relationship needs some expert treatment and no one can do this better than Marshall, the pages in this book surely deserves the sight of your eyes, almost unavoidably!

Reviewed by Partho Mishra
A wisdom sharer interested in creative thoughts and innovations, especially in areas of rich literature, applied physics and computers and technology. Also a freelancer in all these related areas.
Twitter handle- @UNIMANULLARDUKE
E-mail id -
Contact number- +917563808595

I Love You but I’m Not in Love with You by Andrew G. Marshall | Bloomsbury

In our world, when we have introduced a concept like “Virtual Reality”, our actual life also revolves in a world which doesn’t exist, so in order to erode away the dust of confusion and dilemma Andrew G. Marshall has taken the baton in his hand and that too with extraordinary zeal and enthusiasm. This book on relationships is really the path breaker in dealing with such complex problems with utmost ease. Marshall has pretty vividly portrayed the minute aspects, ups and downs and swirl of emotions rising and falling inside human brain and not only that, he has provided apt solutions for the same too. He through his pen sometimes gets into the robe of a perfect counsellor, sometimes a true friend and sometimes the healer of emotional wounds. The seven steps which have been described in that book will really bring passion of love back in anyone’s life whosoever is passing through a phase of emotional trauma. A series delve through a very wide lens has been offered to the readers, to extremely complex relationship problems, with the flair of Marshall’s understanding and expertise.

A must read for every couple who is going through a lot of doubts and confusions regarding their relationship. This book can bring a new perspective towards their relationship and may provide if not best, then surely a better outlook towards each other. Every relationship deserves a second chance and this treatise can help couples find the fourth dimension towards a better sustainable relationship, so that, they may not lament over their “relationship status “ as “single” on social media.

Reviewed by Partho Mishra
A wisdom sharer interested in creative thoughts and innovations, especially in areas of rich literature, applied physics and computers and technology. Also a freelancer in all these related areas.
Twitter handle- @UNIMANULLARDUKE
E-mail id -
Contact number- +917563808595

Lucy Saxon's The Almost King | Bloomsbury

The second milestone by Lucy Saxon in the “Take Back the Skies” series binds the readers in the realm of scientific fiction so tightly that for once we get transported completely to the imaginary world created by the extremely talented story teller. We tend to become a part of the wonderful novel. It immerses the reader into a dystopian cross old-London world through the heroic adventures of Aleks. The reader directly reaches in the midst of an adventurous surrounding, triggering with wonderful fantasies. Very cleverly with adventure and sci-fi galore, Lucy has added a pinch of romance to the plot.

The Almost King is a story about Aleks Vasin, who chooses the road less travelled and urges to become a noble soldier. He starts off with signing up to conscription, but soon realizes his idea is somehow not correct. He only has faint ideas about the fenced soldier camp. He faces the brutality of the camp, the torments of the higher officials. His hopes get shattered to debris. He decides to flee. Acquiring his stolen possessions and a horse, reaches a small town, there he meets an inventor and falls in love, there he begins a journey, that opens a new faucet of fantasies and adventures.

There are many unique elements in Lucy’s novel which makes it stand apart from the regular fantasy novels. It has an action packed cliff-hanger plot with a lot of twists, which makes it worth reading. The style of writing is simple and beautifully arranged, she has successfully avoided the trap of being too verbose or too laconic, which springs and retains the interest of the readers till the end. A remarkable thing about the novel is how the characters and surroundings are developed and unfolded. The depth and beauty of the protagonist’s character was naturally shaped in the course of the plot. There are a lot more interesting characters and incidents but to reveal them completely would be an injustice to Lucy’s grace and flawless expressions. There were some of the loopholes in the plot as the relationship between Aleks and Saria blossomed pretty quickly, then the death of Zohra.

The ending was very smartly plotted and hence left vacant spaces for a future plot. For fantasy and sci-fi enthusiasts, this novel is definitely a page turner and can take the level of imagination to different heights, this has many jaw dropping action sequences to offer on a platter of uniqueness and literary brilliance.

Reviewed by Partho Mishra
A wisdom sharer interested in creative thoughts and innovations, especially in areas of rich literature, applied physics and computers and technology. Also a freelancer in all these related areas.
Twitter handle- @UNIMANULLARDUKE
E-mail id -
Contact number- +917563808595

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Megan Miranda’s Soul Print | Bloomsbury

Megan Miranda’s Soul Print published by Bloomsbury jumps into the sea of literature as a sci-fi thriller. Although the novel encompasses scientific observation yet it floats into the world which seems to be fantastical. Megan Miranda here raises new possibilities where she connects people to their previous criminal souls. However, one can question: what is real in her writing?

Martin Luther king rightly says:
"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."

Similarly, in this novel science misguides a lot and this limitation of science becomes the reality and the essence of Miranda's "Soul Print".

The narrative begins with the story of a seventeen-years-old girl Alina Chase whose soul(supposed to be the soul of June Calahan) is contained in an Island with thirty-two guards. The psychological commotion going on in Alina's mind sets the ground for an immense suspense ahead in the story which compels readers to turn the pages without much effort. Contained Alina says:

"I didn't have a choice. I'm being contained because it's too dangerous for my soul to be free."

The entire novel envelops Alina's pursuit-story to discover how and why her soul is a "perceived threat". Indeed, the story essentially reflects the quest of Alina to find her own identity eclipsed under the cloud of June's soul. It manifests how a girl craves for becoming herself. Even a mere idea of escape from containment is immensely titillating for her. The major focus of the novel is: Will Alina be able to escape from the Island and be able to free herself from her past life?

Alina is born with lots of trouble. It becomes totally inhuman to insert a tracker inside the rib of a little girl so that her soul, the so-called criminal soul of June, would not be able to roam freely. June Calahan never appears physically in the story but haunts almost every character. However, readers grow curious to know what was the crime June committed; was that really a crime or was just made to like so.

The idea of freedom always enlightens a chained person; so Alina also sparkles with hope when the idea of freedom is triggered by Cameron, an unknown young lad. Cameron cuts the tracker out of her rib. The anticipation of enjoying freedom is ecstatic to the extent to overshadow the acute pain Alina was going through due to the cut that bleeds constantly for the want of stitches. She admits overwhelmingly :

"My heart races as I imagine the ocean-the calm blue that stretches straight to freedom."
Miranda pours in the philosophy of existentialism through Alina's constant questioning on her own existence. The time Alina gets that her physical freedom is not too far, new struggle starts for recognising her own individual identity. She contemplates:

"I feel as if I do not exist."

Indeed, the personage of Casey who accompanies Cameron (later recognised as Cameron's own sister) drags the attention of readers the most. It is Casey who is the first to make Alina realise the power of identity. Alina regrets on the fact how her containment has deprived her of the enjoyments of life Casey's enjoyed ; the art of swimming, the knowledge of computer programming and with these the confidence and courage. Casey rebukes Cameron when he tries to display his talent of stitching that he never practiced before. She says:

"I bet outrunning three guards and outswimming a motorized boat aren't on your list of talents."
Hearing this Alina wished  to be like her "more competent ,more capable". Thus Casey comes out as a foil to Alina.

The novel gathers momentum with the entrance of one of the sinister characters, Dominic Ellis. Firstly, he emerges as the main mind planning Alina's escape using Casey. However, the just-received freedom of Alina seems to be in danger as now she gets contained in Dom's clutches. She is Dom's slave now and cannot go against Dom's wish. It is unknown where Dom is carrying Alina. She loses the right to ask anything as she says:

" I am so far beyond asking."

In order to unfold the layers of suspense behind all these chasings Miranda uses flashback technique. Narration shifts backward to uncover the vital clues of Alina's past. It is quite interesting that Alina herself peels off the haziness and confusion attached to June. The story goes back to unravel the story of June and Liam. June and Liam once hacked a database (database recording the data of criminal souls) at the security of Alonzo-Carter Cybersecurity thereby crushing the arrogance of two founders ,Alonzo and Carter, that their database is secured to unhackable. The informations from the database became raw material for some scientists who started devising a strange correlation of present criminals of his time to the souls who were criminals in past lives. June and Liam thought to warn society of all criminal souls so that the future crime would be anticipated thus prevented. Unfortunately June pays for her too much faith in humanity and knowledge as she was blamed to misuse the information for blackmailing people. The excitement in experimenting over printing criminal souls ends in the murder of both June and Liam. Miranda rightly says:

"This is what a belief can do to you."

Till then the story progresses on fantastical ground of "soul printing", but Miranda intellectually wipes these fictional framing with connecting all the fiasco to the " lust for money". Dom is chasing Alina to access the money he thinks June must have hide somewhere and he strongly believes that Alina must know where the money is kept. Alina says to Dom when he tries to titilate her by the charm of money:

"No , I don't want June's money."
"Your money" (Dom corrects)
"June's money" (Alina re-corrects)

In due course Alina is convinced that the rumours about June's and Liam's crie were all rubbish and now she is determined to destroy the source (database) of all these mess. It is worth-noting how Alina starts sensing June's virtual presence directing her. Alina is able to expose a dark cavern. An element of horror pervades when Alina seems to see and listen June.

"I feel like a magic trick...I feel June whispering to me, pulling me awày."

Inside the cave one of the three boxes reveals papers with numbers written that showed groups of lives carrying their previous criminal soul. However numbers were written by Liam not by June.

Story takes another U-turn when Alina comes to know that Liam's soul is descended on Dom. Now Dom's intension is visiblely clear who wants to get inside the database to continue the game of "Power and Money". Dom becomes violent and put a gun at Alina when she denies not to aid him. However, Alina somehow manages to flee with Cameron and Casey. At this stage readers come to know why Casey and Cameron is here. They are here for finding some clues about their lost sister Ava London who disappeared on strange circumstances and Casey was suspicious of Ava's being blackmailed by June. However, the incident of auto-theft by Cameron creates humour and the love-making scenes between Cameron and Alina breakes the monotony amidst all these plotting and intrigues. Miranda is outstanding in verbalising love and romance. Alina says about Cameron:

" He doesn't grab my hand , but his passing body has the same effect , pulling me along."

The time Alina's emotional vacuum is filled by the tender accompaniment of Cameron and Casey, she gains courage unfelt before. The story reaches at its climax when she tries to unfold the meaning of "224081. Ivory Street" and finds the main connecting link between both June and Alina. Ivory Street, a trecherous and cunning old woman who was responsible for using and defaming June's name. June had come to Ivory when she found the study wrong and vulnerable but Ivory killed her. As Alina is demanding the answer in the same way June did , she is now at Ivory's gunpoint. It is remarkable to note the psychological transformation of Alina's mind when she smiles and says to Ivory;

"I'm not June."

Ultimately Alina's self-identification grabs the attention of the readers.

For the first time June's soul's sole purpose is revealed. What June left for Alina is not the database but the truth behind all these conspiracy;

"...the longest of the long games."

Once June was Alina's identity. Now Alina becomes one to clarify June's stained and criminal identity. She says;
"This was the end for June but it will not be for me."

The question of money and power was always with Ivory not with June. June was a mere scapegoat.
However, Ivory Street was only the controller of database not the maker whose identity was yet to be revealed. After capturing Ivory they search some clues that turn all the suspicions towards the villain at the head ; Mason Alonzo(one of the founders of Alonzo-Carter Cybersecurity) , currently the professor of computer science at Elson University.

The suspense is always there in the story. Again the narrative turns turtle when Dominic treacherously inserts a tracker in Cameron's body. However the way Alina moves the blade on Cameron's body in order to find tracker exemplifies her deep love for Cameron. Cameron cringes out of pain. Tracker is detected and Mason is found.

The climax is full of action when Alina acts triumphantly by destroying all the information at Mason's laboratory. She stripes all the wires out and pries all circuit boards from Mason's computer further leading to a blasting fire in the room. The greed for money, power and scientific knowledge leads Mason and Dominic to burn in the flame as they try to save the lab and enter into the burning lab.

The burning computers, wires, circuits symbolise the burning of malaise created on the name of scientific experimentation and technical development. Miranda has well exposed how humanity is at stake in this world of science and technology.

This book carries all the essential elements of interest; fusion of science and fiction, the realistic representation of human inclination towards covetousness and the constant chasing after power, glory and authority. However, Alina's metamorphosis into a courageous and confident girl and her confrontation and identification of her own self soothes the readers the most.

Reviewed by Prity Barnwal

A Master's Degree holder in English Literature, 
Prity is an avid reader and reviewer hailing from Dhanbad, Jharkhand.