Dodas desperate struggle
Rajendra Nath (Major-Gen, retd)
An Insurgency in the Wilderness by Harjeet
Singh. Lancer Publishers and Distributors, New
Delhi. Pages 301. Rs 495.
HARJEET SINGH has served
as a Colonel in J & K for a long period and
his last assignment was in the Rashtriya Rifles
(RR) in Doda district which was raised primarily
to deal with insurgency. Harjeet thus is well
qualified to write about the insurgency in Doda.
informative book he traces the thus history of
insurgency in the region. It describes the advent
and growth of militancy, and enumerates the steps
taken so far to combat and control insurgency.
For the first time, captured diaries of militants
have been published in this book, which give an
insight into how the mujahideen are trained and
motivated to fight in J & K.
insurgency in J & K, the focus of attention
has been on the Kashmir valley. However, the
spread of insurgency in Doda and other areas
south of Pir Panjal has gone relatively
unnoticed. This is the contention of the author,
which has much merit. Meanwhile, the insurgency
has spread to hillsides of Doda which have
forests. The author is right when he says that
insurgency in Doda is more alarming and should be
taken more seriously, because it is in the hinter
became a district in 1948, is one of the biggest
districts in J & K and perhaps in India, in
that it has an area of 11,691 sq km and comprises
eight tehsils. It is bounded by six districts
Anantnag and Kargil in the north, Chamba
in Himachal Pradesh in the south-east, Udhampur
and Kathua to the south and Rajauri and the Jammu
region in the south west.
boundary of Doda district runs along the Pir
Panjal range, whose average height is about 4,000
metres. Doda is located 170 km from Jammu and 200
km from Srinagar. A road takes off from Batote,
which is on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway
and runs eastwards towards the town of Doda and
then onwards to Kishtwar in the northwest. There
is a plan to have a road linking Doda with Chamba
district which will provide an alternative route
The river Chenab
flows for a length of 210 km through Doda
district dividing it into two halves. There are a
large number of high mountain passes on the Pir
Panjal range which separates Doda from the
Kashmir valley. The population of Doda district
is about 5, 20,000 which is about 57 per cent
Muslim and 42 per cent Hindus. Incidentally, the
Kashmir valley is one-fourth the size of Doda and
has 10,000 militants, whereas Doda district has
just about 350-400 militants, the book states.
The number of militants in the valley seems to be
on the high side.
valley has been declared a disturbed area, but
Dodas status has still not undergone a
change, which makes the task of the security
forces much more difficult, since they do not
enjoy special powers to deal with the situation.
speaking, Doda district was part of Kishtwar and
Bhadrawah principalities since ancient times.
Doda was the winter capital of the Kishtwar
rulers and was initially ruled by Rajputs who
were converted to Islam in the 17th century, but
the area remained a happy blend of Islam and
Hinduism, till the time India gained
independence. This was reflected even in the
names of the rulers Raja Inayatullah Singh
and Raja Mohammed Teg Singh. Incidentally
Kishtwar was the base for Zorawar Singhs
famous expeditions to Ladakh and Tibet between
1823 and 1841.
According to the
author,there has been no major economic
development, nor has any infrastructure been
created in Doda since 1948. "The only
significant change that came about was a gradual
shift in all government posts, form the village
level upwards from Hindus to Muslims and the
development of the forest industry in the
region", the author states.
Doda was spearheaded by the Jammu and Kashmir
Liberation Front (JKLF) and the Al Fatah groups.
It was formally organised from the late 1993
onwards with ISI agents and some foreign
militants entering the district to challenge the
military. Local young men were recruited and
taken to Pakistan for training and motivation.
They returned after a few months properly
equipped and trained to spread militancy in Doda.
This process has
been continuing ever since. It looks that
crossing of the LoC does not pose a serious
problem. According to newspaper reports, one of
the aims of the operations in Kargil was to
induct a large number of well-equipped terrorists
into J & K, some specifically in Doda
ethnic cleansing in the valley where all
non-Muslims have been cleared from, the ISI of
Pakistan has planned to repeat the same process
in Doda district, where it is carrying out its
operations in a well-planned manner and has
already gained considerable success, as many
Hindu families have moved out of the district.
The aim of the
insurgents in Doda is obviously to render the
government machinery ineffective and to see that
their writ runs. It is an attempt to change the
system, structure and values related to law and
good governance and replace them with
fundamentalist insurgents rule. The ongoing low
intensity conflict in Doda and J & K is an
armed conflict for political purposes short of
combat between regularly organised forces.
With the recent
Kargil intrusion by Pakistan regular forces,
Kashmir is now experiencing a combination of a
border war, proxy war and insurgency, all rolled
seems to be no end to this conflict in which the
security forces are losing precious lives while
innocent civilians are also being killed. For
Pakistan, insurgency in J & K seems to be one
easy way, because of its limited financial burden
and minimum loss to military personnel. So it
would like to continue it till it achieves its
aim in J & K.
peculiarities of the insurgent movement should be
understood. The insurgent wins, if it does not
lose; while the military loses if it does not
win. In Doda, the government has now organised
village defence committees and civilians are
being given weapons as well as training to face
the terrorists. It is a step in the right
The diary of
killed militants gives the outlines of the
organisation of the insurgent movement in Doda.
Doda is under a Divisional commander, and a
section commander has been nominated for each
tehsil. They have weapons and effective
communication systems with which the section
commanders can talk to their Divisional Commander
in Doda as well as the senior commanders in
Pakistan. The diary admits the presence of
foreign militants from Pakistan who are operating
issued to the insurgents make interesting
reading. Great emphasis is laid on prayers and
reading of Quran every day. The mujahideen should
maintain good discipline, condition themselves to
remain tough and do not trouble the villagers in
order to get their cooperation.
The diary says,
"In case any Mujahid goes to India, he
should try and find out details of any military
personnel there who are serving in Kashmir. They
should try and harass their families and if
possible destroy their houses."
commander and underground worker in each village
should have a camera. He should photograph Indian
soldiers running away or lying dead. This will
give greater motivation to the mujahideen.
should make an endeavour to establish contacts
with other separatist organisations in India. It
will facilitate the availability of weapons and
supplies, states the diary. The diary talks about
the hideouts and the tactics that the mujahideen
should use to fight the Indian Army.
It is a well
written and useful book which deals with
insurgency in the Doda region in a comprehensive
and logical manner.
A writer of silence
Meaning of India by Raja Rao. Vision Books, New
Delhi. Pages 256. Rs 280.
IS this is a collection of
papers written over the past three decades. Among
the Indian writers in English, Raja Rao has
carved a niche for himself. He has a wide sweep
and an inimitable style, his fiction moves
between Indian villages and Europe. He has lived
for several decades in France and the USA and
that is why his writings are a blend of Indian
and European cultures. Despite his interest in
western culture, Raja Rao remains an Advaita
Vedantin at heart. These essays reflect this
undercurrent. For him the Vedantic perspective
alone gives true meaning to life.
cover a variety of subjects from personal
reminiscences of people he met, places he visited
and abstract subjects like the nature of
language, the meaning of understanding and the
nature of ultimate reality. The introduction sets
the tone of these essays. He writes: "I am
no scholar. I am a creativewriter. I
love to play with ideas. It is like a chess game
with horses, elephants, chamberlains and kings
which might fight with one another. The game is
not for winning. It is for rasa
essay communicates its unique rasa, the
predominant rasa of all essays seems adbhuta
the sentiment of marvel which captures
the extraordinary quality inherent in Raja
Raos diverse experiences.
The first essay
on the meaning of India highlights the great
spiritual heritage of non-duality that developed
in this country. As one goes along, several
dimensions of experience from the mundane
to the sublime open up.
India is a unique collage of myth, metaphysics
and reality. He holds that the exaltation of
India, which we Indians ourselves share with
others objectively, historically, spiritually, is
not an indication by any means of the truth of
India, but of the need of an India. As
Andre Malraux put it, it was this holy India that
the Europeans were seeking. India is the
worlds "Holly Grail".
Rao has written
almost half a dozen essays on his encounter with
some of the luminaries of the 20th century. His
essays on Nehru and Gandhi are fascinating
because of his vivid picturisation of the two
great visionaries. For him Gandhi concretises the
essence of India. It is Gandhis search for
truth that created the climate for Indias
He sees in Nehru
the Bodhisatva. He writes: "If Mahatma
Gandhi was a Visvamitra, Pandit Jawaharlal was
the Bodhisatva. What a great thing it would be
for India and the world (I said to myself) if
Panditji were to declare: Yes, of course,
friend, this be my path. This, is sure, trodden
ancient way. The eightfold path to the knowledge
of the root of bondage and freedom from
Gandhi died a
saint, having brought India freedom. Although
this was not the sense in which Gandhi viewed
freedom. It lay not merely in the transfer to
political power. Gandhi had no desire for worldly
power, he held that government over self is the
finest swaraj, it is synonymous with moksha
portraits of Malraux and E.M. Forester are no
less enchanting. He calls Forester an
"unfrocked priest," who is ready to
confess for the faults of others. In Malraux he
sees a reflection of Napoleon, he shot his words,
as in artillery, left and right, centre and down.
There is another dimension of Malraux that
emerges in Raos essays. The Indophille was
forever under the spell of India. Rao quotes him
saying, "Under the Indian sun the world
seems to be seen through the smoke of crematoria.
When one has killed death, one dances, one dances
in the crematorium. Cremation kills no man;
freedom from bondage of the body, the anima
dances, describing the movement of liberty which
The moving force
behind all these essays is the spirit of
non-duality (advaita) which reverberates
in all these essays. It is this spirit, which
characterise India for Rao. "India,"
writes Rao, "is not a country (desa),
it is a perspective (darsana); it is not a
climate but a mood (rasa) in the play of
the Absolute it is not the Indian who
makes India but India makes the
Indian, and this India is in all: it is that
centre of awareness wherein ones self dips
again and again into the hearth of agni, as the
sacrifice is made ...of such is the meaning of
India. And in that rasa he that liveth,
liveth in India. Hence it is Sri Sankara has
said: My native land, the three
worlds. Let this India be".
His views on
writing also communicate the same spirit. He
contends that true communication takes place when
the writer has no desire to communicate. He
writes: "unless the author becomes an upasaka
and enjoys himself in himself (which is rasa)
the eternality of the sound (sabda) will
not manifest itself, and so you cannot
communicate either and so the world here
becomes nothing but a cacophony. The world indeed
is eternal. Man faces himself when he seeks the
word. The word as pure sound is but a
communication that comes from silence."
It is this
silence, which reflects itself in some of these
essays and spellbinds the reader with Raja
Raos depth of vision.
A case of Himalayan
of Everest: The Authorised Story of the Search
for Mallory & Irvine by Jochen Hemleb, Larry.
A. Johnson and Eric. R. Simonson. As told to
Willian E. Northdurft. Macmillan, London.
Distributed by Rupa & Co Pages 205 £ 20.
CAPTAIN Scott and George
Mallory were two explorers who in their
tragic death, have captured for all time to come
the imagination of people the world over.
was frozen to death while returning from South
Pole, having lost to Emundson to be the first to
reach at Frozen desert. Ever since, the British
had wanted to be the first to conquer the
"third pole", the Everest.
Mallory had built for himself a solid reputation
as one of the best mountaineers of his time. The
1924 expedition was his third and final attempt
to scale the Everest. Called
"Chomolungma" by the locals, the
mountain is better known to the world as the
Everest. Mallory wrote: "I cannot tell you
how it possesses me" and made attempt after
attempt as, "It would look rather grim to
see others, without me, engaged in conquering the
In 1924, Mallory
wrote, "Again and for the last time we
advance up the Rongbuk Glacier for victory or
final defeat." On that fateful day, June 8,
1924, Noel Odell saw Mallory and Irvine approach
the prominent rock step at a very short distance
from the final base at 12.50 pm. He saw them
climb it when the vision vanished behind clouds.
He however realised that they had only a few
daylight hours to reach the summit and reach camp
VI safely by nightfall.
As Odell reached
Camp VI, a blizzard blew across. And Mallory and
Irvine disappeared, never to be seen again.
To unravel that
mystery 75 years later, in April, 1999, the
Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition set off to
retrace the steps of the 1924 expedition. This
book is the step-by-step account of those two
The 1924 British
expedition had the great advantage of having
their food, transport, communications and
logistics largely arranged for them by the
British colonial government in India. The
supplies were carried by tough hill ponies, while
the members had to walk most of the distance.
the expedition went over the Nathu La (pass) to
Tibet and turning left went across Tibet,
arriving at Pang La and the Rongbuk base camp.
The 1999 expedition went from Kathmandu, entering
Tibet at Koderi by bus, while the supplies were
sent by truck.
It took the 1924
expedition one month to trek from Darjeeling to
the Rongbuk base camp, arriving toughened and
fully acclamatised. The 1999 expedition made the
journey by bus from Kathmandu to Rongbuk base
camp in six days, stopping over at Nyalam and
Tingri to acclamatise the team members.
Ten solar panels
were connected to two 12-volt batteries, which in
turn were connected to a voltage inverter that
produced 110-volt power for running the
walkie-talkies, computers and a satellite phone.
The expedition found the Everest, still 12 miles
away, to be "so incredibly big".
expedition seems in contrast to be so poorly
equipped and their clothing to be so poorly
insulated. The North Ridge is known for vicious
blizzards that often blow and make life
miserable. The 1924 Expedition was held up for
three days by one such blizzard and all seemed
hopeless. The blizzard was blowing at 100 miles
an hour, "flinging the snow a thousand feet
into the air". When the weather cleared they
were able to establish Camp VI at 27,000 feet.
Mallory was at that time, highly strung, at one
moment he could write, "I cant see
myself defeated". At times he felt despair
and defeated. From the group photograph, one can
see the defiance, determination and the sheer
indomitable spirit of the man.
The summit was
only 2000 feet away from Camp VI, but there were
a series of extremely difficult obstacles. There
was the 700-feet broad, steeply rising,
scre-strewn limestone slabs called the
"yellow band", which led to the
100-foot wall of hard rock called the "first
step". The mountaineers had then to cross
the exposed ridge, one wrong step and there would
be a steep fall. It led to another 100-foot wall,
described as "a sharp bow of a battle
cruiser", called the "second
step". From then it became relatively
easier, a gently rising plateau leading to the
small "third step" and the snow covered
summit itself. And finally descending safely, in
a state of exhaustion and exhilaration.
Somervell made their bid at the Everest, taking a
slantwise traverse to the right, so as to avoid
the rock steps. This was not, however, an easy
route as the endless series of uneven slabs that
slope sharply downward make foothold difficult.
Norton reached the Great Couloir, the huge
verticle gash on the "North Face" at 1
p.m. Realising that this afforded little time to
reach the top and return safely, he turned back.
As far as Norton was concerned the expedition was
over. But, Mallory wanted to make one more bid.
to start early on June 8 and hoped to cross the
rock band by 8 a.m. Noel Odell, a support member
at Camp VI, was busy collecting fossils, when at
12.50 pm he saw Mallory and Irvine approach the
great rock step and shortly emerge on top. Odell
had used the word, "prominent rock
step", which could only mean the first and
sec- ond step, as the third step can hardly be
called prominent. He had also written that this
rock was at a very short distance from the base
of the final pyramid. That left no doubt that he
had seen them at the "second step".
Later Odell was not sure where he had seen them.
expedition had known where to look for Mallory
and Irvine. The Chinese had seen a British dead
near the old Camp VI, while a 1933 British
expedition had found Irvines ice axe a few
hundred feet down the ridge from the "first
step". Conrad Anker found Mallorys
body frozen to alabaster. His sun glasses were
found in his pocket, suggesting they had fallen
to death, while descending in the dark. They
could not find the body of Irvine nor the camera
that could have resolved the mystery.
information it is highly improbable that Mallory
and Irvine made it to the summit. The 1999
expedition started early at 3 a.m. and were able
to reach the "second step" by 10.45
a.m. and the summit at 3 p.m. Even then they
needed help to reach the base camp as it got dark
by the time they returned.
We do not know,
when Mallory started, but an early start would
mean about 5 a.m. They were seen by Odell at the
"second step" at 12.50 p.m. which
tallied with the time taken by the 1999
expedition. Mallory could have made it to the
summit by 5 p.m. leaving no day light to descend
the second step. But, from where Mallorys
body was found it is evident that they had
descended the "second step" and the
"first step", which is impossible to do
mystery remains, most probably Mallory turned
back just after ascending the "second
step", but that proved to be too late.
Their story will
however, remain an inspiration for mankind for
their courage and determination in the face of
such heavy odds.
Horror of Delhi 1984
Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon
Organised Carnage by Gurcharan Singh Babbar.
Babbar Publications, Delhi. Page 239 Rs 300.
violence of November, 1984, in the aftermath of
Indira Gandhis assassination forms a bloody
chapter in the history of free India. The history
of the recent past, to which most of us are
living witnesses, must be recorded with honesty,
integrity and truthfulness. In the book under
review the author intends "to keep the issue
alive and to see that justice is done, not just
to the thousands of those directly affected by
the anti-Sikh violence, but millions of those
whose lives and minds are under siege on account
of what they heard, saw and felt during those
contains documentary evidence of the carnage
which claimed 5,000 lives, uprooted 50,000
families and injured more than 20,000 people.
Hundreds of gurdwaras were destroyed and
thousands of copies of the Guru Granth Sahib were
burnt. The author has produced proof that
violence was not spontaneous but systematic,
pre-planned and directed against an entire
Among those who
led the bloodthirsty mobs were politicians and
police officers. The author has provided a list
of the killers. It was a well-planned conspiracy
which had the active participation of the members
of the then ruling party, the government, the
administration and the police force.
Rajiv Gandhi and
P.V. Narasimha Rao, the then HomeMinister have
been named as the chief conspirators.
The author has
come out with a chronology of events leading to
the four-day massacre. Eye-witness accounts of
survivors have been recorded. Reports of leading
newspapers like the Indian Express, the
Statesman, the Times of India, the Telegraph, the
Economic Times and the Pioneer have been
reproduced. One full chapter is devoted to the
heart-rending account of violence at Kanpur. The
author has captured the tragedy through camera by
providing pictures of a very large number of
victims and their families.
underlines the role of Indian judiciary and
blames it for its double standards. It was
unprecedented for the highest seat of justice,
the Supreme Court of India, to remain closed for
four days from October 31 to November 3, 1984.
Report of the government-appointed Mishra
Commission, which gave a clean chit to political
bigwigs and Delhi administration, has also been
discussed in detail.
though not an armchair academician, has made a
valuable contribution to contemporary history.
Being an eye-witness to the carnage, he has
captured the anguish of the victims and their
families and has provided very useful evidence
for future historians.
authors conclusion is that the anti-Sikh
violence was far from being the handiwork of
communal forces. He quotes examples of communal
harmony and peace. The people who swung into
action to help the survivors with material and
moral resources, were Hindus. Those who reported
the violence in the papers and a majority of
those who demanded punishment to the guilty were
The author who
himself led the struggle for justice by resorting
to a hunger strike at the Boat Club in Delhi,
laments that the victims of bloody carnage are
still clamouring for justice and compensation and
the guilty are still free. The judiciary and the
media are maintaining a guilty silence on the
Most of the
victims are too poor to afford the expensive
justice in courts of law. A majority of the
families lost their bread-earners. Mothers,
sisters and wives have none in the family to
pursue the cases.
Would the powers
that be learn any lesson from this book?
Science: a way of thinking
How to Think
Scientifically Concepts, Methods,
Processes and Style for New Ways of Scientific
Thinking by Narendra Vaidya and Pat McIntyre.
Deep and Deep, New Delhi. Pages.Rs 440
AS the mankind enters a
new millennium, one is struck by glaring
contradictions everywhere. On the one hand, we
are continuously dazzled by super computer, info
system, robot, nuclear energy, space exploration,
manmade satellites, bio-engineering, medical
advancement and mans dominance over the
skies, earth and water. On the other, we are
distressed at the ever-rising crime graph
bigotry, terrorism, genocide, and civil war.
darkness at noon?
endeavoured to grapple with these paradoxes and
most of them have pointed out how technological
advance has failed to build a mass movement for
scientific thinking. The wide chasm between
knowledge and unscientific and anti-scientific
behaviour has to be filled, before science and
technology can usher in lasting happiness. And
one way is to guide individuals and groups to
think rationally by exposing them to concepts
methods and process of scientific thinking.
It is a long
this path that the authors strive. They were
inspired by the late Professor Jean Piaget of
Switzerland who said. "Thinking comes to
children as naturally as learning to walk.... It
is in the nature of the child to be
rational" and "learning is a struggle
to be enjoyed". It shows their faith in the
innate goodness of man. If only we, the grown-up,
change ourselves and rid ourselves of prejudices,
whims and frivolties, we can guide our children
to be reasonable.
The authors call
upon planners and teachers to play a vital role
by enriching, evolving and reconstructing school
curricula. Children have to be given back their
childhood which should correspond to their
natural eagerness to absorb rational ideas and
has rich experience in teaching, research and
training teachers in both India and abroad. Pat
McIntyre, a visiting Professor in science
education at Western Washington University, has
assisted by expanding and elaborating some ideas
and offering some suggestions. In fact, the
American scholar finds Vaidyas concept and
guidelines valuable and advocates a similar text
for an American audience.
point out the widening gap between "those
who know" and those "who do not
know". This has to be removed by making
knowledge of science universal. It has to be
realised that there will be newer and newer ideas
and facts, even in physics laws cannot be
formulated as certitudes. Nature has endowed the
human beings with intelligence, unlike the ant
which is merely equipped to survives.
Socrates, "constant questioning is the
attribute of rational minds." Knowledge has
to be, therefore, endlessly constructed and
reconstructed through investigation. The success
of a teacher lies in producing pupils who will
one day challenge his statements and present the
world something higher and better than their
mentor gave them. There are no final truths, even
as there are no complete explanation in nature.
Teachers have to
create situations where students themselves
simulate the experience of research. Once
students understand the nature and spirit of
science, they will learn to create scientific
knowledge through inquiry.
section is devoted to the work of scientists and
explorers like Ronald Ross, Faraday, Gallilio,
Bruner, Copernicus and William Gilbert to
illustrate how they used scientific processes to
solve problems and build new concepts. They will
doubtlessly inspire budding scientists.
Jawaharlal Nehru once said, "Science is not
a matter of merely looking at the test tubes and
mixing this and that and producing things big and
small. Science is ultimately a way of training
the mind and the whole lifes functioning
according to ways and methods of science
that is, the whole structure, social or
otherwise, functioning in the spirit of
science". It is this aspect which is
repeatedly stressed by the authors as the primary
need for mankind today.
effectively brings out the significance of the
Nobel Laureate C.V. Ramans statement.
"There is only one solution for Indias
economic problems and that is science, more
science and still more science." We may
extend the scope of this statement by asserting
that science and scientific thinking hold the key
to the solution of most of the problems facing
The book is also
noteable for the clarity of expression, use of
figures, interesting anecdotes, quotations
ranging from the pre-Biblical times to the modern