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The Meadow

The Meadow

Muhammad Nadeem

The Meadow tracks a decade-and-a-half old, but still haunting, story. The book is essentially an unravelling of the brutal 1995 kidnapping of six foreign tourists (two Britons, two Americans, one German and one Norwegian) which, some believe, changed the face of modern terrorism and, in a convoluted kind of way, paved the way for the urban attack of 9/11. The authors of this book – a veteran investigative reporting duo – suggest that the job is unfinished on the part of the rebels who started a mission of international terror from one corner of the Kashmir hills seventeen years ago.

The Meadow traces the escalating tension between kidnappers, victims and police while examining the high-level conspiracies surrounding the abduction. This work of meticulous investigation is written in the style of a novel rather than a documentary narrative of facts.

In contrast to the marvellous description of the scenic beauty of the valley, the truth about the journey of the hostages is gritty: the book unsparingly describes their incarceration in deep, remote forests, their rough hand-written notes, the counter-insurgency of militants, the horrific torture by security agencies and the routine killings of innocent civilians. The Meadow is a candid tract, leaving out little.

It discusses the narratives of global jihad; Kashmir, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, America, Britain. It deals in ideologies, clashes, deception, the making and unmaking of militancy, of Muslims and the western world. It also considers language, identity and cultural discourses in both indigenous and global contexts.

The whole tragedy of the kidnapping recorded in such meticulous detail in The Meadow is framed by two larger ‘action’ narratives— the narrative of the Pakistani involvement in Kashmir and the narrative of the Indian state. Neither of these tales of violence, exploitation and indifference lacks in the murky undertones and sinister overtones. Both have had major repercussions not just on the lives of the innocent foreign victims of the 1995 kidnappings but also on the continuing lives of the Kashmiri people. It exposes the overwhelming complicity of governments in ruining the psychological as well as physical environments in which the ordinary people live.

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