Praveen Swami’s book on the secret jihad in Kashmir

The Indian edition of a must-read book

Praveen Swami’s 2006 book India, Pakistan and the Secret Jihad: The covert war in Kashmir, 1947-2004 is a book that you must read. Now, for reasons best known to the marketing department of its publishers, the international edition was priced out of reach of most people. Yet it is ‘most people’ who should read it, and not only scholars, academics and deep-pocketed specialists. That’s why the largely unheralded release of the Indian edition should be welcome. Here’s the introduction to the book:

This book explores the history of Jihadist groups in Jammu and Kashmir, documenting the course of their activities and their changing character from 1947 to 2004. Drawing on new material, including classified Indian intelligence dossiers and records, Praveen Swami shows that Jihadist violence was not, as is widely assumed, a phenomenon that manifested itself in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir only after 1988. Rather, a welter of jihadist groups waged a sustained campaign against Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir from the outset, after the Partition of India. This book first analyses the ideology and practice of Islamist terrorism as it changed and evolved from 1947-1948 onwards. It subsequently discusses the impact of the secret jihad on Indian policy making on Jammu and Kashmir, as well as its influence on political life within the state. Finally, looking at some of the reasons why the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir acquired such intensity in 1990, the author suggests that the answers lie in the transfiguration of the strategic environment in South Asia by the nuclear weapons programme of India and Pakistan. As such, the book argues, the violent conflict which exploded in these two regions after 1990 was not a historical discontinuity: it was, instead, an escalated form of what was by then a five-decade old secret war.[Cambridge University Press/Foundation Books]

It’s available in bookstores as well as from the publisher’s website. The other book you should read is Chandrashekar Dasgupta’s War and Diplomacy in Kashmir, 1947-48. While Mr Dasgupta’s book is focussed on the political milieu of that period, Mr Swami’s book documents Pakistan’s uninterrupted covert war since then. Both are slim, highly readable volumes and if you’ve not already read them, you ought to do it soon.

(And if you’ve got additional suggestions, share it with the others in the comments section)

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15 Responses to Praveen Swami’s book on the secret jihad in Kashmir

  1. Atanu Dey 28th September 2008 at 14:16 #

    I wonder how leftists dance around the ideological underpinnings of jihad. I mean, how do they analyze Islamic terrorism without reference to the justification of violence that Islam mandates against all non-believers.

  2. Nitin 28th September 2008 at 15:22 #

    Atanu,

    I don’t know about leftists, but the opening quote on page 172 is the famous passage from Brigadier S K Malik’s famous book.

  3. Moorthy Muthuswamy 28th September 2008 at 19:56 #

    Check out more about Praveen Swami’s confused analysis in this recent symposium.

  4. photonman 28th September 2008 at 21:16 #

    Nitin:

    I read this book and I agree with you on most counts. Provides a fascinating perspective to events.

    I suppose a fuller picture will emerge once we combine this narrative with those based on Pakistani, American, British, Russian or Chinese archival data – all these countries are interested parties.

  5. ven 28th September 2008 at 21:54 #

    sounds interesting, when the basic fact is this writer Praveen Swami is an associate editor to the Leftist mag ‘The Hindu’

  6. Vijay 29th September 2008 at 02:03 #

    “Now, for reasons best known to the marketing department of its publishers, the international edition was priced out of reach of most people”

    For anyone living in the US and wanting to read this book (but looking for a more affordable price), the book is available from alibris.com for $25

    I’m not associated with that company in any way — just sharing where I purchased my copy

  7. libertarian 29th September 2008 at 08:10 #

    Vijay thanks. The best deal I found on my own was Amazon for $70.

  8. H R Venkatesh 29th September 2008 at 17:15 #

    The book I’m currently ploughing through touches on the Kashmir aspect very nicely. Contested Lands by Sumantra Bose.

  9. Trilok 29th September 2008 at 19:21 #

    H.R.Venkatesh – When you say “touches on the Kashmir aspect very nicely”, do you mean you agree with what you read or do you mean that Sumantra Bose is a typical far left hack?

  10. Vijay 29th September 2008 at 20:19 #

    “And if you’ve got additional suggestions, share it with the others in the comments section”

    Has anyone read Bonfire Of Kashmiriyat – Deconstructing The Accession by Sandeep Bamzai?

    For those that have read or heard about this book, is it a must read like the other 2 books mentioned by Nitin?

    thanks :)

  11. H R Venkatesh 29th September 2008 at 20:39 #

    Happy to oblige Trilok – I simply meant the book is a good introduction to the Kashmir issue, as it is for other ‘contested lands’. I found Ram Guha’s India After Gandhi interesting too, for his take on what happened in Kashmir in the first few decades after Independence. He’s one degree left of centre as he once said of himself. It helps if someone’s political leanings are clear, because one can then track a few degrees to the left or right when reading their work. Case in point – INI. Of course, it is not always easy to figure out what your typical MSM journalist’s political leanings are :-)

  12. Trilok 29th September 2008 at 22:40 #

    HR Venkatesh,
    It’s a shame that readers always need to be cognizant of the writer’s political leaning in order to sniff out bias.
    Anyhow, thanks for responding to my [cheeky] query.

  13. Mayuresh Gaikwad 30th September 2008 at 01:45 #

    First, it happened once in a blue moon

    Then it happened once every ten-twelve full moons

    Then it happened once every two full moons

    Then a full moon happened once every two incidents

    Now it happens every other day!

    Yes, I am talking about the bomb blasts.
    Mehrauli (Delhi) – 27 SEP 2008
    Malegaon (Maharashtra) – 29 SEP 2008
    Sabarkantha (Gujarat) – 29 SEP 2008
    Kandhamal (Orissa) – 29 SEP 2008

    Our home minister will beat his chest, roar in anger again saying that it will not be tolerated! The terrorists call his bluff time and again, yet the roar continues. It sounds more like a mouse’s squeal to me.

    Mr. Patil, when will you live up to your name of “Shiv-Raj”? We want Ram-rajya (ideal rule, prosperity, poverty eradication, et al), but will settle for Shivaji’s rule, where people of all communities lived in peace, with little grievances against each other. Yes, there was poverty, but people were safe and hardworking people easily got out of poverty.

    Mr. Patil, it is not done through roaring like a mouse every time it happens, but by actions on the ground. Divert funds from the corruption ridden NREGS and strengthen the security of the nation. Also, bring to book, anyone who has committed henious crimes, starting from :
    1984 Delhi Riots
    1993 Mumbai Riots
    1993 Mumbai Blasts
    2002 Godhra Blasts
    2002 Gujarat Riots
    2004 Akshardham
    2005 Delhi Blasts
    2006 Varanasi Blasts
    2006 Mumbai Blasts
    All other blasts

  14. Rohit Razdan 30th September 2008 at 05:01 #

    Hi Vijay – I have read Bamzai’s “Bonfire..”. Much more focused around partition and the dynamics between Nehru, Sheikh Abdullah and such than modern (post 80’s) events. That being said, it is well researched, well articulated book, which does a decent job of “what happened” but fails miserably short of explaining how the “what happened” then leads to “whats happening” today. Or perhaps this is just my bias as a Kashmiri.

  15. manoj chakravarti 9th November 2008 at 16:20 #

    Since you mention Dasgupta’s War and Diplomacy in Kashmir, I wonder why you have made no mention of Prem Shankar Jha’s two books on the accession of Kashmir to India. These are Kashmir 1947– Rival Versions of History (OUP 1996), and Kashmir 1947, the Origins of a Dispute. (OUP 2002). Unless hithrto unknown nad radically new materials emerge in the future, the second in particular is perhaps the definitive account of how Kashmir became part of India.

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