Kashmir is in the news again. All of a sudden, every Indian citizen wants to know more about the infamous Kashmir conflict. While most of us know that Kashmir is in fact the world’s most militarized zone and the point of conflict between India and Pakistan, the multilayered complex dispute is hardly ever understood as what it really is. Nevertheless, here are few books to give you a better understanding of Kashmir, its people, the conflict, and the unforgotten history.

Until My Freedom Has Come, Edited By Sanjay Kak (Penguin)

Most of the writers featured in this collection of written pieces are Kashmiris.
Most of the writers featured in this collection of written pieces are Kashmiris.

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It is said that, ‘Conflict creates art’. Well, in the hundreds of years of Kashmir’s history, we have seen several writers, poets, painters, researchers, and artists devote their time in creating several pieces of work on Kashmir. During the uprising of 2010 in Kashmir, the newspapers and the media published a great many number of writings. “Until My Freedom has come” is in fact, a brilliant collection of such reports, accounts, articles, essays, interviews, fictions, and even a rap song. The most of the writings on Kashmir is written by someone outside of Kashmir. But, most of the writers featured in this collection are Kashmiris, giving it the required native voice.

Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years By A.S. Dulat.

The book also includes inside stories of the Kandahar hijack of 1999.
The book also includes inside stories of the Kandahar hijack of 1999.

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This is book is extremely important for two reasons. One, it gives a whole new perspective and is very different from every other book in this list or any other. Two, the book is written by none other than former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s intelligence agency – A.S. Dulat. The author not only had ringside view of the entire conflict during his time in the office but he has also witnessed the most crucial and turbulent times of 1990s. The book is full of explosive revelations and was widely discussed upon its publication. It is one of the best books to understand the activities in the political scenario of the valley.

Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy (1846-1990) By Alastair Lamb (Oxford University Press)

Unfortunately, Lamb’s book, published by Oxford University Press, has been banned in India.
Unfortunately, Lamb’s book, published by Oxford University Press, has been banned in India.

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This is a book that has a potential of giving you an unbiased report on the valley of Kashmir. Alastair Lamb’s book has rich description of Kashmir’s pre independence as well as post independence history. The book not only speaks about the Kashmir dispute but also does a reality check on the theories related to Kashmir’s ‘accession’ to India and its legal tenability.

In the book’s ‘A Final Word’, Lamb writes: “The Vale of Kashmir belongs, it is declared to India by right and, accordingly, India has the moral duty to defend it. But, as we have seen in the first Part of this book, the legal position is far from clear: indeed, a good case can be made that India has no business at all to be in the Vale of Kashmir. Be that as it may, there can be no moral justification for the actual policy of repression currently pursued there by the government of India.”

The book is not to be read as the only truth but another perspective. The importance of reading this book lies in making you more creditable of creating your own opinion.

Munnu: A Boy From Kashmir By Malik Sajad

The book is, in fact, closely based on Malik Sajad’s own childhood and experiences.
The book is, in fact, closely based on Malik Sajad’s own childhood and experiences.

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Fictions are just as important as real life accounts and research papers, when it comes to truly understanding Kashmir. Munnu is one of the finest graphic memoirs published on Kashmir. It is the story of a young Kashmiri boy growing up in the Indian-administered Kashmir in the 1990s. The book gives a very subtle reality check to the readers through a young boy’s childhood. Munnu is constantly amidst the daily traumas of the conflict as his elder brother Bilal’s friends cross over to join the resistance while he also sees his father being taken away by the army for identification parades every other week. But, even amidst all the torture, his life goes on.

The Garden Of Solitude (2011) By Siddhartha Gigoo

The family of Sridar, like the other Pandits, settles in Jammu, where an entire generation of Pandits spends the rest of their lives suffering from a sense of loneliness and alienation.
The family of Sridar, like the other Pandits, settles in Jammu, where an entire generation of Pandits spends the rest of their lives suffering from a sense of loneliness and alienation.

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The story and understanding of Kashmir is incomplete without knowing one of the most unfortunate and horrific set of events. The book is an emotional and heartbreaking tale of a Kashmiri Pandit family driven away from the Valley. This fiction holds special importance because not much has been written on the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. The book narrates the story of a young Pandit boy- Sridar who along with his family had to reluctantly leave his home situated in the beautiful Valley.

No matter which book you read, keep an open mind and allow yourself to think. It is not necessary to make an opinion on the conflict, but it is always better to have the required knowledge.