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Book Review: The Real Wani Kashmir’s True Hero (A Definitive Biography of Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani) by Sonal Chaturvedi

Do all books give what they promise? Probably no… if you talk about memoirs and non-fiction and biographies. Among these books, soon banality begins concerning the reader. However, not all books meet the same fate. Some deliver beyond a set promise. The readers indulge themselves and after closing the book, the tales linger with them for longer time. Fresh from my reading experience, recently I stumbled upon a book based on Kashmir. More clearly, it’s a kind of a biography of a man from Kashmir, covering his life events from 1988 to 2018. Let me introduce the title and the punch line that follows it. The Real Wani Kashmir’s True Hero: A Definitive Biography of Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani. The book is written by Sonal Chaturvedi and being forwarded by General Bipin Rawat.

Sometime back there arose a strong buzz in the Media and Kashmir about Wurhan Wani. Well, he was a terrorist and was shot down by the Indian Army. So, when I saw this title, I was a little confused about the identity of Wani. I checked on Google, saw and read about Wurhan Wani, and got convinced that the story that I am going to read is about a soldier, not a full-fledged terrorist.

This is the story of Nazir Ahmad Wani. In 1988, he was just a growing boy. The valley was undergoing radical and political changes owing to some insurgency that made Kashmiri Pandits to flee. He was in a village that didn’t see the migration but his life got changed as terrorists supported by various sources began interfering with the lives of locals for their ulterior motives. Initially Nazir worked as an ‘Over Ground Worker’ (OGW) for Hizbul Mujahideen. He realized the futility of it and so he left them. But one day, he was thrashed and his family was targeted for petty issues. To resurrect hopes, he joined Ikhwan – a sort of spy network.

The book is basically segmented into two parts; the first part delves into the initial years of Wani and highlights the political turmoil taking place in the valley. Though it has some personal streaks but not as much as the second part, which comes exclusive on a gamut of topics related to his life as a person, soldier, father, husband, and much more.

The book is full of insights and knowledge about the contemporary situation of Kashmir. I had always thought the whole of Kashmir people demanding freedom or accession to Pakistan, but there too dwells different ideologies. In fact, a good part of Kashmir loves peace and India. By reading the story of Nazir Wani, I got to know that how terrorism and religious bigotry is playing with the lives of people. Going by the facts and stats presented in the book, I would pay respect to Nazir Wani for his sacrifices for the country by fighting boldly against the terrorists.

Published by Bloomsbury, this is an excellent work of non-fiction by Sonal. People interested in a soldier’s life, his hardship at duty and home, awards conferred to him, and his passion to serve the country and humanity – should definitely pick up this book. I sighed in appreciation for the author who convinced the readers at all episodes, and her narration never made me realize that I am into a biography book. Honestly, I read it like a war fiction. Need of the hour…truly a deserving book and of course highly recommended.

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