RED JIHAD by Sami Ahmad Khan

“Red Jihad” is a good story in need of a good editor,

This clever, futuristic plot set in 2014, that sees India and Pakistan almost at war against each other, and then coming together to fight a common enemy, is marred by poor editing.

A writer like Mr. Khan, a PhD scholar student from JNU and a Fulbright scholar would not – I’d stake my life on it – make the sloppy grammatical errors that pepper this book.

You don’t have to be a linguistic purist to be irritated by these errors, which any decent editor should have picked up :

…pick up cudgels…

He had learned that one should never let a neta not blame people around him, for it was the neta’s pet alibi.  (I have no idea what that means)

Sonar was all he knew, rest everything puzzled him.

The silo was lighted and ready for action.

Grapevine had it that India was…

He knew a lieutenant general who did not make it to a full general only because he had given many under his command. Cardiac arrests.

His biggest achievement in the field of defence was on the verge of biting dust.  “What  else do we know?” the defence minister asked, trying to put the shock behind.  (2 errors in as many sentences – careless editing).

The storyline does, thank goodness, carry the reader along, and towards the end of the book I became less irritated by the editing, choosing to ignore it, as I became increasingly more involved in the unfolding Indo-Pak drama.

The premise is a clever one.

Pakistani Islamic extremists join forces with Indian Naxalites, and together they try and set the 2 traditional enemies at each others’ throats by launching a nuclear missile.  I won’t spoil too much of the plot for you, as there are many twists and turns along the way – literal as well as metaphorical – as the terrifyingly powerful Pralay (India’s imagined intercontinental ballistic missile) is programmed to jink and twist and turn, as it flies across the subcontinent making its lethal target impossible to predict.

You see the drama in that ?

Will it hit an Indian city (Delhi) or a Pakistani one (Lahore)?

Will India unwittingly nuke its own capital?

Or will India start a war by unwittingly nuking a Pakistani city?

And who has programmed Pralay anyway?

Who has unleashed this weapon on truly terrifying magnitude?

Should old enemies trust each other as they both try to handle this disastrously explosive situation?

Living in Delhi as I do, I enjoyed the futuristic touch, peeking into how my city and government will look in 2 years. We will have a new PM (and it is NOT whom you think, which is reason enough to cheer!) and we will have learned how to queue.  This, I have to admit, I found fantastic in every sense of the word.

A disaster has been declared in Delhi.  Evacuation orders have been issued, and I quote :

“There were long but well-managed queues as hastily recalled DTC bus drivers came running in their pyjamas, and sped the jam-packed buses away…”

Hmm…well-managed queues in Delhi, just 2 years from now…page 137 if you don’t believe me!

Joking aside, “Red Jihad” is interesting, it’s a good page-turning read – though I could have wished for a less complicated timeline, jumping back and forth as it does between India and Pakistan, minute by minute.  And watch out for the underlined dates which, as the writer explains in a footnote, “imply action having taken place in the past rather than during the linear timeline of events.’

Combining the forces of Jihadis and Nazalites is clever and thought-provoking.

I look forward to Mr. Khan’s next book.

Published by Rupa, the paperback costs Rs 295.

You can buy the book now, by clicking on this link below :

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