A call to arms

They are true stories of people involved in real battles and conflicts. These three books provide rare insights into the lives of courageous Indians.

Dhiman Chattopadhyay        Print Edition: April 6, 2008

They are true stories of people involved in real battles and conflicts. These three books provide rare insights into the lives of courageous Indians.  

They came to Baghdad

It was frustrating when there were no developments, no leads to follow. They spread the word around that there was a team now stationed in Baghdad. They sent out feelers. They felt that if they highlighted their presence, the news would filter through to the right quarters. Local television had already announced the presence of the team. There was also the worry that if they went about advertising their presence indiscreetly, they would attract the attention of the Americans or the Iraqi police. The team assumed that there were people who would try to keep tabs on which persons the Indian team was meeting and why. This would have had an impact on the outcome.

There was yet another downside. The people responsible for kidnapping would also become very cautious for fear of being discovered. The kidnappers would hesitate to make contact to avoid the chance of their being tracked by intelligence agencies, shadowed and caught. To sustain and subjugate the insurrection, the Occupation Forces had set up a formidable intelligence-gathering mechanism. There were spies everywhere.

Excerpted from Anatomy of an Abduction: How the Indian Hostages in Iraq Were Freed, by V. Sudarshan; Rs 295; Pp 219 (With permission from Penguin Books)

Lakshmibai: An unwilling rebel

On 12 and 14 June, Lakshmibai wrote to W.C Erskine, the Commissoner and Agent to the Lieutenant Governor in the Sagar divisions. In the first letter, she wrote of her utter helplessness in the face of mutiny and popular insurgency. She affirmed her total dependence on the British and said that she had assumed the responsibility of governing Jhansi for the protection and welfare of the people. In the second, she admitted that it was becoming impossible for her to maintain law and order and pleaded for quick reinforcements. In his reply, Erskine asked the Rani to govern Jhansi on behalf of the British till such time a new superintendent arrived to take charge...... Lakshmibai, contrary to popular myth, was not a willing and an immediate rebel.

Excerpted from Dateline 1857: Revolt Against the Raj, by Rudrangshu Mukherjee with Pramod Kapoor, Rs 795; Pp: 144 (With permission from Roli Books)

The general who wasn’t to be chief

Responding to the question “Did you ever hope to be the Chief of Army Staff?” Inder replied: ‘’I don’t remember having any conscious hope of becoming the Chief of Army Staff. There were six possible people who were eligible to be the Chief; five Army Commanders, among whom I was the Western Army Commander, and the Vice Chief of Army Staff. The seniormost among them usually becomes the Chief. The man who became Chief was nine months senior to me.”

Excerpted from Born to Dare: The life of Lt Gen. Inderjit Singh Gill, PVSM, MC, by S. Muthiah; Rs 495; Pp 298 (With permission from Penguin-Viking)

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