13 April, 2021

Barter Of Humans

A superb probe of the 1994 kidnapping and murder of foreign tourists finds all, but the mourners, deficient

Barter Of Humans

This riveting book reminds me of the best of western journalism, which in its heyday produced works of contemporary history, for it unravels every complex detail of a tragic and misunderstood story. The ability of journalism to produce works like these is something I had forgotten in the cacophony of sound bites and unsubstantiated opinion that characterises our reporting of Jammu and Kashmir.

Beautifully written, The Meadow deals with the kidnapping and murders of a group of foreign tourists, American, British and Norwegian, by the Al Faran militants in 1994. Their families’ painful search for them lasted for an inordinately long seven years, and was given up in 2000-01; their quest for the truth, you could say, never really ended. The Meadow is a tribute to that ordeal.

As we all know, the Kashmir insurgency began with the kidnap of then home minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s daughter in 1990, who was released in exchange for the release of five militants. Whether this experience emboldened militant...

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