Books on soldiers declared missing in action, the curtailment of women’s autonomy, and police torture feature on this week’s list of good reads.(HT Team)
Books on soldiers declared missing in action, the curtailment of women’s autonomy, and police torture feature on this week’s list of good reads.(HT Team)

HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week

This week’s reading list includes the unfinished story of soldiers declared missing in action, a book that looks at how women’s autonomy is curtailed, and another on torture by the police in Indian prisons
By HT Team | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON FEB 14, 2020 07:17 PM IST


MISSING IN ACTION BY CHANDER SUTA DOGRA

341pp, Rs 699; HarperCollins
341pp, Rs 699; HarperCollins

The story of the Indian soldiers who were declared missing in action is one that remains unfinished, a spillover of the wars with Pakistan. These are men who disappeared in enemy territory while on daring missions in 1965 and 1971. The wars ended but for their next of kin, the battle had just begun.
Officially, the number of soldiers missing in action stands at eighty-three, but many believe it could be a lot more. The nation has forgotten them, though successive governments continue to make token acknowledgements about their missing status.
Over the last five decades, there have been scattered news reports and a few memoirs offering information piecemeal, but this is the first time the saga is being fully told. The result of years of research, Missing in Action, offers startling revelations that make the issue live again. Amid much hearsay and dismissive commentary on the subject, Chander Suta Dogra’s book is an attempt to find an answer to the question, ‘What happened to these men?’ It also hopes to open up a debate on how soldiers are often used as pawns by governments, even as they pay lip service to their cause.
Five years after he was declared dead, Maj. AK Suri came alive in official records due to unexpected evidence, forcing the government to admit it made a mistake. Gnr Sujan Singh was presumed dead for almost two decades. How did Indian intelligence deduce that Flt Lt TS Dandoss was not killed in an air crash but was secretly detained by Pakistan? Two Indian soldiers captured during the Kargil conflict were turned and motivated to spy for Pakistan. Their stories are a reminder that wars do not always end with peace accords. *

FEARLESS FREEDOM BY KAVITA KRISHNAN

270pp, Rs 299; Penguin
270pp, Rs 299; Penguin

‘Safety’ for women in India is , more often than not, coded as curtailment of autonomy. To be ‘safe’, women are told, they must allow themselves to be kept under constant surveillance. Their movement is restricted to specific spaces, often homes and hostels. Extreme levels of control are exercised to confine their mobility.
In this groundbreaking and radical book, Kavita Krishnan locates the personal and political repercussions of erasing women from public spaces. She argues that many real and violent threats to female autonomy are, in fact, hidden in plain sight. Often challenging conventional wisdom, this is a blazing fiery manifesto for greater equality, political and economic independence, and, most of all, absolute and complete personal freedom. *

TORTURE BEHIND BARS BY JOSHUA N ASTON

225pp, Rs 1195; Oxford University Press
225pp, Rs 1195; Oxford University Press

Although considered an ancient concept, torture is still practised globally, and with more meticulousness and sophistication than ever before. Custodial violence refers to a form of torture that is experienced physically, psychologically, or emotionally in the custody of a lawful authority. The international legal regime on torture is an area of convergence between international human rights law and humanitarian law, both of which condemn torture in any form.
Torture Behind Bars analyses the context of torture and ill treatment of prisoners and crimes committed by the members of the police force. This may be in the form of custodial violence, or may begin from the point of detention and continue post-custody. The author reviews the role and accountability of the police force in India in the light of the reports of various national and international human rights committees, non-governmental organizations and other independent reports. The book highlights several such cases which blatantly disregard the law meant for upholding the human rights and dignity of the individuals. *

*All copy from book flap

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