Book Review: Red Jihad
Lives have been held to ransom and we as a country have waited with bathed breaths when the naxalites have nabbed our officers, watched in disgust when they have destroyed our railway tracks and prayed in horror for the mutilated bodies of our officers which are thrown at us as a lesson. The horror and helplessness is even higher when lives are lost horrifically and the country held to ransom with acts of brutality enacted by a bunch of brutal religious maniacs commonly labeled as terrorists and who is the general consciousness of our country are from across the border. These two forces – The Naxalites & The Jihadis – individually form the pegs that drain the country of the energies that could have been better utilized in a lot of other spheres. Sami Ahmad Khan in his debut work brings the horrific possibility of these two thorns, bleeding the sides of our country and by an extension our western neighbor too, coming together. Like the title suggests – Red Jihad is the coming together of these disruptive forces for a common bad.
Sami takes us on a thrilling ride in the near future, precisely 2014, where a top secret Indian missile base is under attack from the local farmers or so it seems at the onset except that these farmers carry the latest top notch guns and ammunition. The base is taken under siege by the miscreants who do not come up with any demands – neither man or money, which baffles the Indian government who are on the verge of declaring to the world that they are finally a safe and stable country now. Since the base was a secret mission, at a secret location and all measures were taken to keep it off detection, the Indian intelligence is trapped in its own web; they are unable to access the base and counter attack without damaging the missile which was about to be tested when the siege happened. Though the scientists are sure that the missile cannot be accessed by the miscreants under any condition, absence of any demand puts the governance in a panic mode and pushes the PM to take a rather quick and brash decision, which in turn instigates the patriotic Army chief to depose the PM and declare military rule in the country, temporarily, till the missile base is reclaimed back. But trapped in its own security web the Indian security forces are not able to do much before the real damage happens i.e. the missile – Pralay – gets launched and is headed first to Delhi and then to Lahore. An Indian missile launched from the Indian soil headed towards the civilian area of a Pakistani city. Pakistan in 2014 is a democracy; the military and ISI have been stripped of its autocratic powers and is dealing with its own internal demons of jihadis and religious fanatics. An attack by its sworn enemy inspite of a peace deal in place is something even a weaker, democratic Pakistan will not stand and they declare war on India after the missile lands. Pakistan’s inferior numbers in the security forces will surely taken them down but they have two nukes for every nuke that India has and they will stop at nothing to beat India. India is now engaged in a war with its arch enemy which Pakistan believe India started and India has no proof to deny that it did not. USA, Russia, China and the other players watch on as the battle for power in South Asia looms between the two most powerful nations in the subcontinent. Meanwhile there was players who are pulling the strings of this grand game where the two nuclear powers are just pawns – are they individuals, organizations or countries?
Red Jihad is a thriller and worth every page in there. It is racy, surprising and scary which makes Sami a master story teller. The very fact that the story is set, over 3 days, in 2014 which is not very far from today is the thrilling and chilling factor in the narration. A lot of things in there, are happening or have a possibility of happening and that is what sets you into a one more chapter mode while you read. This one is well researched, narrated and edited making for an enthralling read and a remarkable debut. I have a formula to judge the thrill of a thriller – the number of oh! shittts is directly proportional to the thrill in the thriller and this one does have a decent number of those. India – Pakistan relationships are being explored much these days, after The Shadow Throne by Aroon Raman, this one too is a compelling read and not to be missed.
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