Bitter realities | BLOOD ON MY HANDS by Kishalay Bhattacharjee


2 STARS

I found this book through a string of articles I was reading on the Kashmir issue and the Indian Army’s role therein, which was in continuation to reading Behold, I Shine: Narratives of Kashmir’s Women and Children a few months ago. While browsing these articles I came across one that referred to this book, detailing a disturbing confession by an unnamed army officer about staged encounters and extra-judicial killings by the Indian Army in disturbed areas like Kashmir and the North East.

Having grown up as an army kid myself, the details in the article were not only disturbing, but also unbelievable, and I certainly wanted to know more.
The book succeeds in making the reader understand the reality and existence of these staged encounters, and also explains why they take place. It describes how the “system” is wired to compel some individuals to resort to desperate measures to justify their existence or demonstrate their effectiveness. In shocking detail it relates how promotions, citations and awards are linked to body counts for those serving in these delicate areas, and how numerous innocent and unsuspecting lives have been lost in a bid to have the numbers add up.
Most do not succumb to this pressure, but some have and do, and this book is about those few…

The book also delivers perspective on the grey areas of military presence in Kashmir and the North East and why the conflict never seems to end. The army isn’t the lone perpetrator here – there is a well oiled organised mafia involving the local police and militant groups that traffic human lives for money, creating win-win situations for everyone but the victim, who is declared to be a gunned down terrorist. This quote from the confession makes the situation chillingly clear –


Militancy at any cost must be kept alive, even if it is on life support. You see the entire architecture of corruption and promotion will collapse if there is peace.

It is a bitter and dismal realisation to arrive at, since the army has always been lauded to be the most honourable and upright institution in the country, and more so when one has been a part of the institution, even if in a small way.

While this book had a significant impact on me, I give it 2 stars because I felt it could have been better written and documented. The writing felt rushed and amateur, especially in the confession chapters which read like direct transcriptions of the conversations, and which I feel could have been more nuanced and better written. The confessional narrative sort of digresses into various anecdotes and incidents and the author could have structured those better instead of just putting them down like they were told. References to certain incidents are easily traceable online and it would have been good if those were substantiated with evidence that is publicly available, and also lend credibility to the officer’s claims.

In any case, it is still a book worth reading once, to be mindful of some of the bitter realities of one of the most celebrated institutions of the country.

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Jab tak thi jaan………


What happens when you watch the 10:30 pm show of a movie like this ?? – – – – it ends in hysteria and headache!

But you see, I had to watch the movie, I just had to. And what it confirmed was, my absolute and accurate prediction – that it was going to be exactly as bad as it was! So yay!

But, what I have a problem with is not the underlying basic story / concept of undying love, rather how it was portrayed in the film.

I mean, what is it with movies like this that try and place its characters in a near real modern day setting and then make the same characters larger than life in a manner that one cannot even remotely relate to them….?
Take Shah Rukh Khan for example. He is 47 and plays a 25 year old for half the movie. I think even Hrithik Roshan will not be able to pass for a 25 year old anymore. So i ask WHY? Its not convincing, it doesn’t fit and it just interferes with the viewer’s movie experience. What’s the point if we have to do all the imagination!

Unless maybe you are as attentive to detail as Aamir Khan, who being as old as SRK, managed to play an engineering student with such conviction that everyone applauded the effort. I mean right from his look, to his demeanor, to his acting – – everything lent so well to the brilliant story that it was. I know, I know – AK and SRK are poles apart and have very different cinematic personalities, but, they are both still actors and the underlying premise for both remains the same, no matter what roles they do.

And its not that SRK can’t act, or can’t portray a character perfectly. Swades / Chak de India are two of his most brilliant films. But it seems like his superstar image is always overshadowing the character he plays and that really kills it.

Ok, so about the movie then. It was too predictable. There were too many signature SRK scenes (walking away with backpack especially, which seems to weigh nothing) that looked like I had seen them before.

Katrina Kaif wasn’t so bad, but that’s about it. Ofcourse, she has a fabulous wardrobe.

Anushka Sharma is overdoing her “young / tomboyish / oh i’ve been there done that / super cool dilli girl / enthusiasm pumped to the core / fallen in love and reformed” role. She should stop. Before it ends up in overkill. Also, her character is a little irritating – and I don’t understand how a 38 year old man can be interested in the 21 year old girl who has brains not enough to figure that when you jump in a lake somewhere in Ladakh, the water is bound to be icy!

Also, one would think that maybe it was high time that the movie makers got the “army” angle correct. But no, they must still use it only to portray the macho-ism of their hero. After all, woh hero hai bhai! Woh apne desh ke liye thodi lad raha tha…..woh to Sir Jesus ko challenge karne ke liye bharti hua tha.

And that brings me to my next question – usko bharti kisne kiya? The man did not know english, most likely had an interrupted education (which is why he was working multiple odd job shifts in London, else his multi millionaire girlfriend could have given him an office job..no?), was 25 when he saw Katrina Kaif and fell in love,  28 when he returned to India – – so how did he get into the army?? On the one month speed english course his girlfriend gave him??

All I ask for is a little authenticity.

Sigh….it wasn’t over until it was over…….jab tak thi jaan, jab tak thi jaan…..