Monday, 25 May 2015

Book Review #39 : Operation Jai Mata Di

Title : Operation Jai Mata Di
Author : Pratik Shah
Genre : Fiction


In a daring midnight operation by armed men, over 10,000 pilgrims are taken hostage en route to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, a popular Himalayan religious-tourist destination in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir in Northern India. The hostage-takers threaten to shoot pilgrims every day, unless the incumbent Government accedes to their demands.

With the largest Hindu festival of Diwali just around the corner and elections less than six months away, the Government at the center is under immense pressure to act. What will the Government do? The army? The intelligence agencies? The common man?

No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Who are these men? Is there a larger plot? Faced with such unprecedented events, will the country descend into unimaginable anarchy or will it rise above the issues of collective apathy and greed that have plagued it since Independence?

Operation Jai Mata Di’ by Pratik Shah is a book which is full of drama and action. Nonetheless, there is plenty for readers to enjoy – politics, terrorism, helicopters, bullets, media and plenty of tricks to fire a fertile imagination.

‘Operation Jai Mata Di’ states that terrorism is more of a threat from within a society than from the real terrorists. Anger and helplessness, according to the author, makes people do things they would normally not do.

The plot follows the story of over 10,000 pilgrims, who are taken hostages by some unknown armed men. This hostage situation occurs en route to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, a popular Hindu religious place situated in the northern part of India. These armed men threaten to kill two pilgrims every day if their demands are not accepted by the Indian government. Will government accede to their demands? Who are these armed men? Do they belong to some terrorist group? What were their demands? Read the book to know the answers of all these questions.

The language of the book is simple and lucid. The little thriller unveils itself between past and present. It moves at a fair pace and the author has done a great job of weaving a number of current events in the form of a story.

This book will certainly appeal to the readers who love reading hostage type of situations. The storyline is interesting and absorbing!

‘Operation Jai Mata Di’ is a pleasant surprise. It was a welcome change from the routine run-of-the-mill terrorist stories. Here the so-called ‘terrorists’ are different both in terms of nationality and their mission.

The writer takes a common theme – ‘terrorism’ and makes a bold foray into a new direction. The narrative revolves around a solid, intriguing plot and the writer takes great efforts to make sure that most of the loose ends are tied by the time the story ends. It evokes questions of social consciousness and posits that there can be light at the end of the tunnel given the apathetic state of India’s governance.

Given that this is the first effort from the author – I see a lot of promise and potential for him. Editing, though could have been tighter. The book has all the ingredients for it to convert into a decent movie.

Op JMD is one of the most engrossing books that I have read in recent times. It is relevant and believable.

Fast paced, fun read. The book keeps you guessing till the surprising end. A must read for anyone interested in reading a thriller. Overall an enjoyable read, a nail biting thriller, I will give this 4/5.

Note: The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve’s reviewers network.

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