Tej N Dhar
Jailed without Crime, M L Kak; Utpal Publications, Pp 335(PB), Rs 300
On June 26, 1975, Kak was arrested by the police in Hisar, where he was staff correspondent of The Tribune. He was accused of being an active worker of the RSS, who had a plan to destroy the Post and Telegraph office at Hisar. The first fifty pages of Kak’s book describe the arbitrary manner in which people like him were arrested under MISA on false charges, and the suffering and humiliation he experienced during his stay in jail, first in Hisar and then in Srinagar, Kashmir, for over fifteen months. After his release, he worked for The Tribune in Srinagar till 1990, when the eruption of militant violence forced him to leave the Valley.
After narrating the short episode about life during the times of Emergency, Kak’s book takes on the shape of what he calls a “memoir sans notes.” He writes about his growing up in a large joint family in the city of Srinagar, his parents, uncles, and cousins, his education in school, college, and university, his teachers in those places, and also the ones who taught him journalism in Chandigarh, his hobbies, the jobs he did before joining The Tribune, his editors and senior journalists, his marriage and his growing family. He also writes about the politicians he came to know in Haryana and Kashmir, including Bansi Lal, Shiekh Abdullah, Ghulam Mohd Sadiq, PL Handoo, Ghulam Rasool Kar, Shabir Shah, and Maulvi Farooq, the leaders of Panun Kashmir, various police chiefs, senior bureaucrats, and many others. He also writes about the miraculous deeds of doctors and hakims, his meetings with saints, his brush with the Shah Commission, the forced migration of Pandits from the Valley and its baneful effect on their lives, his search for a home outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and his Will. The entire account is quite engaging and peppered with a good bit of humour.
The second part of the book is a collection of his journalistic stories that he wrote from time to time, but mostly after 1990, for different papers and magazines. We have pieces on Farooq Abdullah’s tenure in his office after 1996, the mysterious outfit Al-Jabar that dictated dress code in the Valley, the impact of militancy on the career of Pandit students in Jammu, the politics behind Amar Nath Yatra, the Sadbhavana mission of the Indian Army in the border villages of Kashmir, the foreign face of terror, Dhirendra Bramachari and Dr Anand Swami of ESOME, and many other people and happenings.
Kak’s story of his arrest and detention and of whatever happened to him in his life should be of interest to people who like to read human stories and also to those who are interested in the politics and history of our times, especially of the trouble-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir. Some of the pieces in the second half, which are based on his long personal association with people in high places, are quite revealing. The book is a good read for all kinds of readers.
(Utpal Publications, R-22, Khaujea Complex, Main Mkt, Shakarpur Delhi: 110 092; [email protected])