Friday, January 26, 2024




                                                 BOOK REVIEW



(  Hindi poetry collection )

By Maharaj Krishen Santoshi

Published by Anamika Prakashan


Year of Publication 2023

Price ..Rs199/=


Maharaj Krishen Santoshi is a well-known Hindi poet and writer from the J&K UT. His poems and short stories have been published in many leading Hindi magazines in the country . Many have also been translated into various Indian languages including Telgu, Dogri , Punjabi, Gujarati , etc. He has published five poetic collections and a collection of short stories titled ,’Hamaare Ishwar Ko Tairana Nahin Aata” .Prof Arvind  Gigoo has also translated his poems in a collection titled, ‘The Chinar is My Address’. He has received many awards including the Best Book Award from J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages .He has also been awarded ‘Sauhaardh Samaan’ by the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Society . He hails from Mattan town in the Kashmir valley and presently lives in Anand Nagar ,  Bohri ,Jammu.

 The present poetic collection under review is titled, ‘Gantantra Mein Goraiyya ‘. Published in 2023,the book comprises 89 poems spread over 104 pages .The poems are brief, crisp and deal  with existential predicaments apart from other subjects like exile ,memories of lost home, lost friends, life in camps, love, fear, parental memories, etc. Apart from this, there is a bunch of mini poems dedicated to Buddha written under the title, “Budh Ko Sambodhit Kavitaayein”.

  I believe good poetry flows out freely from the heart and it can never be an intellectual process. Born not in the mind but in the heart full of feelings and sensitivity, good poetry makes the reader exclaim with delight, “Yes, that's it! That's right!  Yes ,that is exactly how I feel! ”.In all the poems in this compilation, one comes across Santoshi’s intense observation and equally sensitive and uncomplicated presentation. Through these poems, Santoshi’s effort is to capture the essence of the chord struck in him by an instant of insight, in such a way that the same music sounds in the soul of the reader. That makes these poems readable, lovable and appreciable. Santoshi’s poetic canvas  is wide and he discusses many other issues through his poems apart from the exile that he painfully experiences. Through his poems, Santoshi also attempts to elucidate his own destiny. What interests the reader in the  ideas appearing in his poems  is their dramatic significance with reference  to the poet  himself. That also makes him come to some extent, closer to a few modern Kudish poets especially Kajal Ahmed and Abdullah Goran   . The emergence of modern Kurdish poetry marks a period of great significance in the history of Kurdish literature since it witnessed the advent of modernity, the rise of Kurdish nationalism, the fall of the Persian and Ottoman Empires, and the creation of the Middle East with no country for Kurds.The poems carry a sense of loss , pain ,an intense feeling of nostalgia and perpetual exile . Many exiled Kashmiri  poets like Santoshi also  feel and express similarly

 .I quote some samples from the  poems of Santoshi appearing in the book under review :-



 “Mitti ke devta

Kitne bhi pooje jaayein

Par woh darte hain

Baarish  se “………… (  A Mini Poem )


(However intensely

 You may worship

 Gods made of mud ,


They fear a simple rainfall.)



 “Baarish mein bheeg rahi thi

woh stree,

aur mein khidki se dekh raha tha

uska badan

Budh !

mein kya karta

khidki bandh kar deta

tau bhi woh stree

mujh se aujhal nahin hoti.”  ( from …Buddh Ko Sambhodit Kavitaayein )


(The woman kept

Drenching in the rain,

And I kept looking

 at her body from my window.

My Lord ! My Buddha !

Tell me , what could I do ?

Had I shut the window,

still then,

that woman would not have

become invisible for me )



“O Ishwar ,

Ek baat poochhoon,

Hamaari vethaayein,

Hamaari praarthanaayein,

Kis daak ghar se pahunchati hogi aap tak

Meray  gaanv ka daakiya kahaa  kartaa  tha

Ishwar ke yahaan koyi daak-ghar nahin

Vahaan bus athaah shoonya hai

Jis ka koyi pincode nahin.”……..( From the poem ….Ishwar Ke Yahaan koyi Daak-ghar Nahin )


(  O God!

Should I ask a question ?

Through which post office,

Our painful stories ,

Our innumerable submissions ,

  get delivered to you ?  

The postman of my village used to tell me ,

“There is no post office  in God’s  town,

There is only infinite emptiness 

That has no pincode .)



“Aangan mein kunkuni dhoop ho

Havaaon mein pakay  huve sebon ki mehak

Aana tum

O mrityu ,

Dabochana nahin,

Jaise iss jeevan ne liya daboch ,

Chhoona ang ang

Jaise koyi kunti

Khayaalon hi khayaalon mein

Chhu rahi ho

Apne kisi karan ko “………( From the poem Mrityu )


 ( In the courtyard ,

 Let there be a  pleasant sunshine ,

Let the air be

 laden with  the fragrance  of ripe apple fruits ,

 Then come ,

Come,  O Death !

Visit me ,

Don’t pounce upon 

The way this life has seized me ,

Come ,

touch every part of my body

the way some Kunti ,

in the chain of her   dreams

keeps caressing her own Karan.)




“Yeh jo itna kuchh chhap raha hai kaagaz par

Kya bhula diya jaayega raddhi samajh kar

Kya naahak kaate gaye peid

Kya naahak padi gayi kitaabein

Kya naahak aadmi ne sapne dekhe


Jab tak rahegi bhaasha

Kaagaz iss duniya ko vishwaas dillaata rahega

Aksharon ko dohte dohte

Na kabhi thakeinge

Na kabhi raddhi hone se dareinge) ………( poem Kaagaz )


(These voluminous writings on paper

Shall the world forget this all like scrap ?


Were the trees cut without need ?

Were the books read without need ?

Did man engage in dreaming without a need ?


Till the end of this world ,

The paper shall keep reminding  the human race

“ carrying these words day after day on my shoulders ,

I shall neither get  tired

Nor shall I be afraid of turning into scrap ,or waste )


To the lovers of good poetry, I recommend this book. Here is something fresh, readable and enjoyable.


( Avtar Mota )






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Tuesday, January 23, 2024




  ( Book Release function at Jammu on  20th January 2024 )

                            BOOK REVIEW                         



( Displacement And Identity ) 

 By Rohini Vaishnavi

Published by Bigfoot06 Publications (OPC) Pvt. Ltd.

Year of Publication …December 2023

ISBN: 978-81-968085-4-9

Price 250 ( available on Amazon )



Rohini Vaishnavi has done her Master's in Business Management from a prestigious European university. .After that , she has been in various leadership roles in the corporate world for many years . And now  she has   founded a content creation and brand communication agency . She is a columnist in the Times of India Opinion. She has also edited   ” The Chronicles of  Kashmir  “, a book by Bal Krishen Sanyasi , her father and a well-known Kashmiri poet. She belongs to the family of Pandit Amar Nath Vaishnavi,  the well-known  selfless leader of Kashmiri Pandits. She is directly connected with many Initiatives of  Amar Nath Vaishnavi Foundation , a social organization working for the  exiled Kashmiri Pandits .


Dedicated to Somawati Vaishnavi (her grandmother), this 127-page book consists of 5 stories titled, Yusuf, The Bedside Lamp, It Was Destined, Doon and Shireen. In Her Introduction to the book , Rohini writes this :-


“I understood the role that geography plays in shaping individual and collective identity only after I had to leave my birthplace forever, never to return. Though this book is a work of fiction , I have drawn  the emotions and situations from the lives of real people that I know of and some of it is my personal experience. I salute the resilience of this miniscule community which bounced back and started life from a scratch after the Exodus and always had faith in India and its democracy.”


The ‘Short Story’ technique gained great popularity in the world literature after the arrival of  writers like Guy de Maupassant, Nikolay Gogol, Leo Tolsty, Anton Chekhov and many more. Chekhov went ahead and broke the tradition of a well plotted-story. He was not interested in conveying dramatic happenings through his short stories though much is revealed about his characters and the quality of their lives. Unlike Maupassant, Chekhov focused on his characters using his perception, subtle humour and irony .The event was not important to him. He employed what is known as foreshadowing technique to convey human suffering, loss, helplessness, pathos and loneliness. His characters are breathtakingly relatable and lifelike. Unknowingly or knowingly , Rohini uses something like  Anton Chekhov’s technique to  convey  stories .Her stories revolve around intangible loss ,struggle for survival ,helplessness , suffering , relationships ,loss of culture and loss of identity; the issues that the Kashmiri Pandits  faced after being driven out from their motherland.


In the story Yusuf, Rohini uses Yusuf, a young boy to convey the loss of ‘Ghar-Devta’ for the Kashmiri Pandit exiles in the heat and dust of the plains of the country. Yusuf’s parents buy the house of an exiled Kashmiri Pandit where young Yusuf finds a picture drawn by one Avinash in his notebook with a note on Ghar-Devta and his miracles. Innocent Yusuf believes that the Ghar-Devta would certainly help to save his ailing mother, Khadija.The story of Ghar-Devta is woven in a style that is profoundly relatable for the readers from the Kashmiri Pandit community. The story also recalls the greedy brokers who followed Pandit exiles in their tents and camps and used all types of pressure forcing them to sell their property for peanuts.

 Similarly in the story, ‘The Bedside Lamp’, Neena’s longing to revisit her home in Kashmir results in her kidnapping .Shafi the  captor , despite speaking the same language and being from a  similar cultural background , fails to demonstrate human empathy and warmth. And Shafi (who is now the Area Commander of a terrorist group ) was closely known to Neena’s family during the days when peace prevailed in Kashmir. He was their neighbour. Finally,  Neena walks to her freedom only after the sudden  army  crackdown that makes her captor run for life. Similarly in the story, ‘It Was Destined ’ the reader finds a similar situation when a Kashmiri Pandit family revisit their house .When Sarita revisits her house, she finds everything changed. She recognises Majid, the new occupant of their house. Thirty years back, Majid , the truck driver had informed Sarita that her sister had been shot dead.


‘Doon’ is another story full of nostalgia, pathos and suffering. Doon  or walnut is symbolic of Kashmiri culture. The walnut was a binding force in the composite culture of Kashmir especially during Shivratri festivity. In the story, Ashwini is a Bangaluru-based  Kashmiri Pandit engineer whose mother  died in a Jammu hospital of some unknown ailment in 1996, a time when Ashwini was completing his BE degree from a Pune college. Kashinath , his father lived a lonely life in one room in Jammu after the death of his wife. Kashinath’s lonely life in the room brings back the painful memories of sufferings of every  Kashmiri Pandit in Jammu after being thrown out from the valley . Kashinath goes to live with Ashwini ( who has married Sunayna ,a Kannad  girl) in Bangluru and decides to celebrate Shivratri with walnuts the way he used to do when Shobha, his wife was alive. Sunayna cooperates happily .Sahil, Ashwini’s son also gets connected to walnuts that he sees in California where he moves permanently after completing his education. Doon fascinates Kashinath, Ashwini and even Sahil who lives in California. Kashinath suffers from dementia and Sunayna is all happy to pass on the cultural importance of Doon to the German girl who is now Sahil’s companion . The story is woven into incidents and situations that bring painful nostalgia and a profound sense of loss .


The last story is a moving tale of two young hearts, two lovers ;  Vikram and Shireen who face the sudden onset of brutal terrorism that changes the course of their lives and shatters all dreams. While reading the story, I was reminded of Sahir Ludhianavi’s poem ‘Parchhaiyaan’ or Shadows. Sanjay and Raksha , common friends  of Vikram and Shireen too are dumbfounded with this sudden change in the peaceful environment in the valley. The story is woven around the killing of Tika Lal Taploo , bomb blasts and kidnappings. The situation at that time was a clear  signal  to  the Pandits and other minorities living in the valley. Allama Iqbal has summed up this situation in his poetry as under:-

“Chhupa  kar aasteen  mein  bijliyaan rakhi  hain  garduun ne

Aanaadil   bagh ke  gaafil  na baithen  aashiyaanon  mein

Wattan ki  fikr kar  nadaan museebat aanewaali hai

Teri  barbaadiyon ke  mashware hain  aasmaanon  mein.”


(The arched sphere has concealed lightning in its sleeve,

Let not the nightingales of the garden sit carefree in their nests,

Oh, the ignorant! Think of your homeland, the tragedy waits in wings,

                          Consultations for your destruction are being held in the skies.)


And then these characters live through the horrible night of 19th January, 1990. Thereafter, silence and

suspicion become the way of life for Kashmiris that include Omkar Nath and Sheela , parents of Shireen .This was the period when neighbours turned strangers .A period when the season of exile had set in .Leaving everything behind , Kashmiri Pandits run to the plains of the country to save their lives and honour using every available mode of transport. Shireen was studying in Mumbai while whereabouts of Vikram’s family were unknown. None knew where did they go and how they were. And Shireen kept looking for Vikram in the refugee camps, in the long queues to collect tap water, in the tattered tents and anywhere and everywhere.


( Review of the book published in the Daily Excelsior on 18th February, 2024)

The book invokes an intense feeling of collective loss and uprooting. These stories are also a great effort towards documenting what befell a peace-loving community. I have every reason to believe that such stories will be read as the ‘history of the sufferings of a community’ by  posterity .


 ( Avtar Mota )


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Sunday, January 21, 2024



                                                 ( Red Popp flower y with a black spot )


(Agar siyah dilam daag e lala zaare tu-ahm
Va-gar kushaada jabeenam gul e bahaare tu-ahm)..Allama Iqbal

( If I am black-hearted, I am a black spot of the *poppy of your garden,
And if I am cheerful, then a flower of the spring that is visiting you )

( Avtar Mota )

* Red Poppy flowers have black spots. The black spots at the heart of the poppy mimic the presence of a female beetle. This is a way for the flowers to attract male beetles.

See less


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                                                                BOOK REVIEW
By Dr. Ramesh Tamiri 
Published in December 2023
Printed at Thomson Press ( India ) Ltd.
Price Rs595/=( paperback ) and 995/=( hardcopy )
Distributed by Oberoi Book Service, Jammu
( Mobile ..9419189623 and 9797571413)
Dr Ramesh Tamiri is an ophthalmologist by profession. However, he is more known as an innovative thinker, author and writer whose work abounds in intensive research and objectivity. In his write-ups that I keep reading, he appears to be having a flair for revealing nothing more than what is true. Seldom have I noticed him balancing facts to be politically correct or skirt out through a mid-path that pleases all. The strength of his argument silences even his toughest critic .The enormous ground work that he does before publishing anything places him on a high pedestal in comparison to the usual copy-paste writers that thrive in the present-day world .This is his second book after, ‘Painting and Theatre in Kashmir: Suraj Tiku`s Journey’. This book established him as a writer of different class and calibre.
The present 342-page book, ‘Pakistan’s Invasion on J&K (1947-48): Untold Stories Of Victims ‘ , published in December 2023, is a result of about two decades of extensive research and hard work. Tamiri has reached out to the victims or their families to record firsthand accounts of what befell them and their nears and dears during those dark days (1947-48). What Pakistan did in October 1947, can’t be called, a “Tribal Raid’ to play down the genocidal atrocities committed upon Hindus and Sikhs of J&K State as it existed before 1947. The entire area that is presently known as POK, was cleansed of Sikhs and Hindus who were killed, tortured and made to flee. There are innumerable stories of gruesome rapes, plunder, kidnappings and killings. The book recounts thousands of women jumping into the rivers or wells or consuming poison to save their honour. It also informs of a designed operation by the Pakistani army and government to forcibly annex Kashmir and cleanse the area of Hindus and Sikhs once Maharaja Hari Singh refused to accede to Pakistan. 
Apart from the Introduction, Analysis and Conclusion, Postscript and Endnotes, the book has been set in five sections, viz; Pakistan Invasion, Muzaffarabad District, Jammu Region, Baltistan and Gilgit Region . The section on Invasion provides details of the conspirators who planned and tried to execute the atrocious plan for forcible annexation of J&K with Pakistan after cleansing it of the minorities primarily Hindus and Sikhs. As per the book, the principal conspirators of the plan were Liaquat Ali Khan (Prime Minister of Pakistan), Khan Abdul Qayoom Khan, Nawab of Mamdot, Sardar Shaukat Hayat Khan, Latif Afghani ( communist ), Mian Ifftikharuddin, Major Khurshid Anwar ( leader National Guards ), Col Akbar Khan, Col M Z Kiani, Col Sher Khan, Col Taj Mohammad Khanzada, Col R M Arshad, Major A S B Shah, former INA officers including Col Habibur Rehman, Khwaja Abdur Rahim ( Commissioner of Rawalpindi, Gujrat and Jhelum ) Pir Manki Sharif, Mohammad Ali Khan Hoti, Ch Hameedullah Khan ( Muslim League) , Furqaan Batallion (Ahmedi and a pro-British group ) and many more. Two British Commanders namely General F Messervy and General D Gracy had complete knowledge of the Invasion plan. It was also decided to recruit Pashtun tribesmen for the invasion of Kashmir through the call of ‘Jihad ‘after striking a deal with their leaders that the ‘Lashkars’ were free to plunder, loot and rape. The broader plan of the Invasion had sub-plans like, ‘Economic Blockade ‘ ‘Inciting Muslim soldiers in the State’s forces’, ‘Border Raids’ , ‘Communal Violence’, ‘Arresting Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and the Maharaja’, etc. The book informs while Jinnah camped at Abbottabad in anticipation of the ‘ expected victory’, a committee was set up to draft a ‘ Declaration of Freedom’. The members of this committee were poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mian Ifftikharuddin, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmed and Professor Mohammad Ishaqye. Others associated with this plan included Dr M D Taseer ( former principal of S P College, Srinagar ), Nasira Siddqi and many more . The Khudai Khidmatgars led by Badshah Khan, Zalmai Pashtuns and Ahrar leader Maulana Ghulam Ghaus opposed this plan.
In the Muzaffarabad section, the author presents some hitherto unknown facts like the positive role of Akram Hussain of Kotli in saving lives, the treacherous role played by deserters from State’s forces, the heroic fight by the Sikhs with Pakistani marauders at Gojra and Naluchi, the heroic fight of Capt. Ram Prakash with the invaders at Kotli, the role of Brigadier Paranjpe in saving ten thousand lives at Kotli, and the role of Aga Jan Khan in saving many Hindu and Sikh girls. No less was the role of RSS leader Kedar Nath Sahni in arranging all possible food and eatables for the fleeing victims from Kotli. In and around Muzaffarabad town, hundreds of women and girls were raped, kidnapped and taken to Pakistan and sold there. Thousands of men were brutally killed after looting their assets. Thousands of women in Muzaffarabad and adjoining villages jumped into the Kishenganga River to save their honour. There are stories of savagery, rapes and molestation the moment Pakistan-sponsored marauders arrived in Muzaffarabad and adjoining areas. Those who trekked for many weeks dodging the marauders and arrived in India were totally emaciated and had lost most of their relations in the mayhem and firing from the invaders on hapless fleeing victims. Those who were put in camps lived a miserable life and were repatriated as late as 1951 by the International Red Cross. Many of the 47 Kashmiri Pandit families residing in Muzaffarabad were also killed. 
Unfortunately, Mirpur, a town that had 80% Hindu population, faced the worst carnage, killings and genocidal atrocities. The stories of the brutal massacres of Hindus and Sikhs at Dharmsal , Kas Guma, Thathal, Alibeg Camp, Akalgarh, Mirpur courthouse, Dutiyal Camp and many more places send shivers down the spine. The book informs that when Pandit Prem Nath Dogra and Balraj Madhok sought Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru’s intervention to save lives in Mirpur, he is reported to have told them, “Talk to Sheikh Sahib“. Hindus and Sikhs living in Rajouri town also faced the worst atrocities during the Pakistani occupation. The painful story of Lala Anant Ram Kaila and his family brings tears to the eyes. At the same time the humanism of a local Gujjar Mian Abdullah in giving shelter to many Hindus in his Kothar is praiseworthy. Hindus and Sikhs of Budhal, Samote, Daraj, Dandakote-Ganjauli, Gota and Chitti Batti also faced similar extreme atrocities.
The book brings forth the reign of terror unleashed by Pakistan in Skardu ( Baltistan ) which was a part of the J&K State. The Hindu and Sikh employees or traders or soldiers at Skardu, Khaplu, Shigar, Bunji, and Drass, faced the worst from Pakistani marauders. Many Kashmiri Pandit victims and their relatives had horrible tales to tell to the author. The book also recounts how the Nationalist Resistance and the role of some patriots like Major Prithi Chand, Sonam Narboo, Shridhar Kaul Dulloo, Major General Thimaya, and Air Commodore Meher Singh saved Ladakh. Gilgit, a part of the J&K State with all its principalities like Hunza, Nagir, Punial, Koh-Ghizar, Yasin and Ishkoman were also ravaged by Pakistanis. The book illustrates the role of Brigadier Ghansara Singh in Gilgit who was held captive by Pakistanis. In Gilgit also, many Sikhs and Hindus were forced to change their faith by the marauders.
The book exposes Pakistani design of not only annexing Muzaffarabad, Bhimber, Poonch, Mirpur, Rajouri and other places by force but also the underlying plan to cleanse these areas of the presence of Hindus and the Sikhs by rapes, abductions, forcible conversions, killings and plunder. It also brings forth details of valiant resistance by Sikhs and Hindus at Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Bhimber, Kotli, Deva Vatala, Budhal and many other places. The commendable role played by some saner Muslims like Master Abdul Aziz, Munshi Ferozdin, Abdul Aziz Thekkedar, Mir Zaman, Haji Mohammad Khan and many more in saving Hindus and Sikhs has been deservingly highlighted in the pages of this book. The book informs that more than 38000 innocents lost their lives in this holocaust. And the wounds of this calamity linger on to this day. I conclude this brief review with lines from poet Ali Sardar Jafri’s poem Sarhad ( border ) wherein the poet seeks reply to some questions from Pakistani authorities.
"Yeh tank taup ye bombaar aag bandookein,
Kahaan se laaye ho kis ki taraf hai rookh in-kaa
Dayaar e waaris o iqbal ka yeh taufa hai ?
Jaga ke jung ke tufaan zameen e nanak se
Uthay ho barq giraane kabir ke ghar par ?
Ghulam tum bhi thay kal tak ghulam hum bhi thay ,
Naha ke khoon mein aayee thi fasl e aazadi…” ………..Ali Sardar Jafri
"These tanks , canons , bombers, fire and the guns
Where from have you procured all this?
To which direction are these aimed ?
Is it a gift from the land of Waris Shah and Iqbal ?
From the land of Guru Nanak ,
You raise thunder of war hurricanes
to put Kabir’s dwelling on fire .
A slave you too were till yesterday ,
A slave we too were till yesterday,
Drenched in our own blood ,
We reaped the crop of freedom .”
(Avtar Mota )


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