Book review: Iqbal Chand Malhotra & Maroof Raza, Kashmir’s Untold Story: Declassified

DOI10.1177/0019556121996233
Publication Date01 Mar 2021
AuthorLeoni Connah
SubjectBook Reviews
Book Reviews 137
Iqbal Chand Malhotra & Maroof Raza, Kashmir’s Untold Story:
Declassified. India: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019, 202 pp. £22.50
(hardback). ISBN: 9789388912853.
DOI: 10.1177/0019556121996233
The aim of Iqbal Chand Malhorta and Maroof Raza’s recent book Kashmir’s
Untold Story: Declassified is to answer six primary questions concerning the
ongoing conflict in Kashmir. The questions cover different aspects of the Kashmir
conflict, from the impact of Partition to the Chinese microchip industry. Covering
a broad range of issues, the book provides a detailed history from the time of
Dogra rule to the current situation.
Malhorta has a background in TV production, whereas Raza is a former Indian
army officer. The background of both authors provides an interesting and original
account of a well-trodden history because they have described and analysed the
situation from personal experiences.
The book is categorised into 10 chapters, each with a metaphorical title refer-
ring to the sea that reflects the situation at the time. The historical timeline that is
detailed in each chapter is highlighted in actions. For example, sub-titles such as
‘Abdullah Alienates Nehru’ (p. 94) are a good way to discuss key events, rather
than overwhelming the reader with dates and timelines. Chapter 1 ‘Unfathomable
Depths’ briefly explains the ancient history of Kashmir and how archaeolo-
gists have ‘traced the earliest signs of human life in the Indian subcontinent to
Kashmir’ (p. 1). The chapter then details the relationship between Dogra rule
and the British Empire and portrays the intricacies of Indian, British and Chinese
claims on Kashmir.
Chapter 2 ‘Cloudy Waters’ explores the years leading up to Partition and the
dilemma of succession. The authors make an interesting point that even during
World War II, the British still had primary interests in the region and ‘over 30,000
men from Poonch had served in the Indian Army’. This is an often overlooked and
unfamiliar aspect of Kashmir’s history, highlighted by the authors.
The following chapters ‘reveal the policies that the British adapted in order
to remain a dominant player in the region’ (p. 26). The role played by Lord
Mountbatten in laying the ‘grounds for sustained and never-ending militancy
in Jammu and Kashmir’ (p. 57). ‘Never-ending’ is a rather negative statement
in analysing the Kashmir situation, but the authors go on to support this
claim in Chapter 5 entitled ‘Lashing Waves’ by demonstrating the lasting
influence of the British rule in India and Kashmir through the ‘ghosts of Ismay
and Cunningham’ (p. 74).
Chapters 6 and 7 discuss Sheikh Abdullah’s ‘long journey’ (p. 80) and his central
role in Kashmir’s story. For the authors, ‘had it not been for Sheikh Abdullah, it
is probable that Article 370 would have been much more clearly defined’ (p. 99).
Hypothetical scenarios such as these imply a level of bias from the authors and
insinuate that they are aligning themselves on one side of the binary. But the two
chapters further explore the growing interest of the USA in Kashmir and how the
situation got internationalised, thus demonstrating the uniqueness of the Kashmir
conflict.

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