Called UNQUIET LAND, Stories from India’s Fault Lines, the book captures contemporary India. In a series of pieces she has covered amongst others the Mumbai 2008 attack and the Radia Tape, in both of which she had received flak.
In a rivetting narrative, Dutt spots fault lines and pinpoints issues like the 1999 Kargil War, the 2012 Nirbhaya rape, the 2004 Tsunami, the 26/11 attacks, the 2002 Gujarat riots, and the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq. She highlights the roles of rapists, murderers, terrorists, prophets of hatred religions, politicians, and haters of free speech. These lines have run deep threatening the progress of India, destroying innocent lives and tarnishing both democracy and secularism in society.
Dutt starts off addressing the gender concerns by calling herself a feminist. She speaks about her experience as a student when she noticed how disconnected the middle-class was. She highlights the gang rape which brought a change in public awareness and legal redressal to violence against women. Here she includes the Bhanwari Devi’s rape and the formulation of guidelines for protecting women from sexual harassment at workplace. She also emphasises rape laws and child sexual abuse. She writes about her own experience of being sexually abused by a relative.
Close to the scenes of action...
Next Dutt narrates about a soldier’s bravery in Himalayas which turned to be an inspiration to the heros of Kargil War. She should know given that she was close to the scene of action that won her an award for covering Kargil.
Unquiet Land defines the dilemma of the nation of haves versus the have-nots. The book reveals the backdrop of economic reform, government corruption, stifling bureaucracy and the complications of a judicial system that refuses to acknowledge marital rape.
The intensity of the book is contained in nuggets and dialogues. Some of the remarkable dialogues are that of a villager in Kashmir who recounts Farooq Abdullah’s personality and Sheelu Nishad who was kidnapped and raped.
Terrorism is no longer confined to conflict zones, but has extended its wings into urban territories. Dutt writes about religious extremism and says 2002 is her first hand experience of religious riot. The book also has heart-breaking stories from Kashmir and other war frontiers.
Instead of being an apologist for liberal secularism, Dutt raises critical questions about the failure of all governments in upholding the principles of natural justice that dilutes the concept of secularism in India. She talks about the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi symbolising the acts on rationalistic attacks.
Dutt’s expression often reflects a sense of righteousness. She has been frequently accused for being anti-national, by the neo social media crowd. The book received negative reviews
in e-commerce sites and was rated below average. Dutt has taken the negative remarks on a lighter note.
I think her book is a brave and honest attempt at saying it as it should be said.