The troubled waters of Assam and Kashmir is turbid occluding much thoroughgoing. Lt General Sinha'smemoirs fly straight from the horse'smouth. This tempered army-man took up the gauntlet of plumbing the depths of sedition, threw down the gauntlet upon terrorists and remained unfazed to run the gauntlet bayed by militants luckily remaining unscathed. He lived in and out of the jaws of death, amidst impending doom streaking out a fortuitous escape. It'srare to find a gubernatorial role coupled with an army-man'schivalry. This book groundswells a sequel to his earlier autobiography, A soldier recalls.
Lt General Sinha was not accorded aggrandizement to army generalissimo. He fell out with his rebuttal to the army bandwagon after 40 years of tenuous service, commissioned before Independence when the number of Indian officers was paltry. His resignation led the Parliament to echo with his ?legitimate due?. It snowballed across all and sundry from political honchos to the media. The author now donned the mantle of a diplomat becoming the ambassador of Nepal and remained for six long years. There he billowed out his autobiography, A soldier recalls. ?It covers the period of my second interlude followed by my tenure as Governor of Assam for six years and thereafter as Governor of Jammu & Kashmir for five years.? Besides, he also served two short tenures each as Governor of West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh running into eleven continuous years, unforeseen in the annals of India. The author is emphatic over his ?proactive? role, who did not live in a gilded cage and perform only ceremonial duties?..With my army background and long experience of handling insurgency during my career, I took active interest in counter-insurgency operations.?
The book tells several facets of the author, his penchant for history. He recounts his visit to Patel Memorial museum in Sardar'snative village of Karamat in Gujarat. ?When Sardar died, his bank balance was only Rs 287?.Here was a man who had been the treasurer of the Congress Party for thirty years and, who as Deputy Prime Minister, dealt with more than 500 Maharajas and Nawabs. This included the Nizam of Hyderabad who, in his time, was supposed to be one of the richest men in the world, second only to the Emperor of Japan.? ?I had seen the Partition holocaust of 1947 from close quarters. For two months, I was traveling in the Viceroy'sspecial train?.for use as a mobile headquarter. We were ten staff officers?.and I was the only Indian?..We traveled in this train between Delhi and Lahore??The gory scenes which I witnessed at that time, were the worst spectacles of human barbarity and brutality that I have ever seen.?
August 1997 saw the fracas over arresting the Bihar Chief Minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav and the army being requisitioned as police declined to arrest him. Soon after, the author was offered Governor'srole in Assam. The author recollects, ?My association with Assam had started in 1945 when I was only 19 years of age. I had been commissioned in the 9th Jat Regiment?.posted at Palasbari in Guwahati.? At a certain later point of time he narrates, ?The Japanese invasion of Assam had been foiled. ?My Battalion was training in the hills and jungles near Palasbari, to move into Burma to pursue retreating Japanese into Siam, now Thailand.?
The way author relates and correlates incidents to surmise upon a finding is indeed unique. While carrying a prognosis of Assam ?Delhi imbroglio, he says, ?Indira Gandhi was determined to force an election on the Asamese people using the disputed voter'slist. There was now open confrontation between the Government and the people. I had personal experience of the Quit India Movement of 1942 when I was a student?..Yet I found that the Students? Movement in Assam of 1983 was more widespread than what I had seen of the 1942 movement in Bihar.? Indira Gandhi'sobduracy resulted in a voter turn out of less than 3 per cent, lowest in the history of elections in India. The horrendous tragedy of the Nellie massacre took place then. ?In one day, more than 1700 people were killed. This was the worst pogrom on a single day in Independent India.?
The great Assamese military hero, Lachit Borphukan showed his chivalry through a series of success and defeats culminating in a decisive win in the battle of Saraighat in 1671. The author questions why the Indian populace have only read a few national heroes and sidelined others like Veer Lachit and saints of the stature of Mahapurush Shrimant Shankardev widening the chasm between Indian mainstream and of Assam.
The book also has a chapter on the impasse over land transfer to Amarnath Shrine Board. The tinderbox of Amarnath sizzled the entire valley. ?I still had faith in Kashmiriyat and the wisdom of the people of Kashmir. ?The communal and anti-national forces spreading totally false and venomous propoganda continued to have a field day?.Their agitation had been fueled by the PDP in a rare act of duplicity.? Farooq Abdullah heaps encomiums on the writer??…served in J&K in various capacities in the Indian Army since Independence. He was at the forefront of action against the Kabaili raiders in 1947. He?.did commendable work towards Kashmiriyat. The chapter ?Paradise in peril: Kashmir imbroglio? discloses many incognito episodes about Kashmir that unravels several hidden facets to resolve a yet new conundrum.
?In both my gubernatorial assignments, I also had additional assignments ? Charman of North East Council when I was in Assam and Chairman of two Shrine Boards in Jammu & Kashmir. I had my share of success and failure as a governor in two very sensitive states.? The author cites several historical anecdotes that showcase his tempered worldview that readers might find a homme d?espirit in him.
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