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'I am a Kashmiri and my politics are different'

November 18, 2008
Very early on in Basharat Peer's Curfewed Night, there is a part about probably the greatest moment in India-Pakistan cricket history. Chetan Sharma bowling a delivery he will never forget to Javed Miandad at Sharjah.

That passage sort of says a lot about everything that will follow. Peer is an author who will show, not tell; Nights is all about people's stories, which is always a greater service to the reader than the academic drone usually associated with non-fiction; and most of all, that Peer is a narrator par excellence.

The book is about the author's experiences in the Kashmir valley at a time which saw the birth of militancy. He leaves the valley for a few years and later, quits his job in Delhi to come back and goes in search of the protagonists of the stories that dominated his childhood.

In this interview to Krishna Kumar, Peer -- a former correspondent at -- talks about the book, his childhood and the dynamic that is at work between India and Kashmir.

What's happening in Kashmir right now mirrors the days just before the birth of militancy...

There is a major difference between the 1990s and the recent protests. Though the slogans and demands are the same, the 1990s saw the arrival of the gun. The current protests are peaceful. The number of militants has gone down to hundreds and they too have taken a backseat. I see this as the time when non-violent politics becoming a main feature in the culture of protests in Kashmir.

Also, there is the initiation of a new generation. Those who were two or three years old in 1990 have now grown up and are at the forefront of the protests.

Buy Curfewed Night at the Rediff Bookshop!

Image: Kashmiri children watch a demonstration in Srinagar. Photograph: Irshad Khan/AFP/Getty Images

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