Book Review: The Burning School by Sandesh Raj

I didn’t know much before picking up the book as why Kashmir is considered a hot bed of terrorism-oriented activities in India. There, as I gathered from news, stone-pelting, locals killed by terrorists, Pakistani militant infiltration, and life-crippling curfews are common. Probably, there each morning for the local residents bring fresh news for the people that lead to even more dreadful events.

But the question is, how the children will make their future bright on the back of education if it’s war-torn zone or terrorism is prevalent? Yeah…to answer the question, there is this novel ‘The Burning School: the untold story of Kashmir’ by Sandeesh Raj.

It features a story of Naved Baig, a young man from Lucknow, with army family background, turning his back to the five-star corporate job, comes to Kashmir to support the students aiming to crack the IIT exams.

Once he reaches to Kashmir, his life’s main aim is not only to guide the IIT exams students but also to win the trust of local Kashmiris so that they can send back their children to the schools which have been burnt down by terrorists.

As Naved’s preparation soars high and his popularity increases among the locals, at the same time the tension in the environment grips and threatens to put everything of him at stake, even his life.

The book is surely one of the classics on Kashmir related books. There are other events too described in the book which are related to daily lives of Kashmiris. However, students and education are two prominent parts. I liked the overall narration and fast-paced accounts of the events happening in the valley.

There are many characters and all sound good to their assigned roles. It’s a good book that one can be read in leisure with an intention of getting more raw knowledge about the ground realities of the state Kashmir.

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