The Assassinations: A Novel of 1984 by Vikram Kapur

The 1980’s were turbulent times in the history of India. After the Hindu-Muslim the country had not quite recovered from the Partition around three decades ago when the 1980’s saw fresh communal uprisings between Hindus and Sikhs. Under the Prime Ministership of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Operation Blue Star had taken place. This included the army marching into the Golden Temple, one of the most religious places of worship for the Sikhs community. To top it all, Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards who were Sikhs, a few years after the Operation. The Assassinations is set against this communal disharmony.

Vikram Kapur takes immense care of not making the book preachy in a History Book format. Instead, he cleverly weaves in a love story -an inter-religious love story- between a Hindu girl and a Sikh boy to narrate the consequences of this National political scenario in the lives of innocent people. It tells the tale of an engaged couple and their families, who face the wrath of the communal adversities. At times, society influences people to change and this change affects the ones close to the individual in many different ways. This is exactly what happened in the life of Deepa and Prem, the protagonists of the novel.

The Assassinations is a very symbolic title. Not only were innocent people assassinated during Operation Blue Star; but also Mrs. Gandhi a few years after. But a lot more was slain apart from the people. Friendship, love, trust, faith, belief, innocence and above all humanity were assassinated. The entire Sikh community was abandoned, insulted and vigorously put to death in the most inhuman ways. The vivid imageries of these atrocities portrayed by worded descriptions are enough to make one’s bile churn.

Religion and Community are deep-rooted virtues in the life of an individual. One may seem to be an atheist, but come a calamity and one’s true allegiance is displayed. Taking advantage of this vulnerable aspect, especially among the hot-blooded youths, the militants started recruiting young men by playing with their beliefs. The fragility of the situation is often not grasped by these unaware youth and they find themselves trapped in dire situations, from whence there is no return.

The Assassinations revive the ground realities of communal imbalance due to political developments. Though the disturbance is a phase and with time, it disappears, only to be retold as tales or written in history books; but the shadows of suffering, injustice, loss, and death linger long after. The horrors, if experienced up front are too fresh to be ever forgotten, though its impact may lessen with time.

This is a novel that I would recommend all to read. History interspersed with a love story, in a crisp, well-structured and easy to understand language; is what sets this book apart from any other. The Assassinations is available at your nearest bookstores or can be purchased online via Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal.

*Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy of The Assassinations by Writersmelon in exchange for an honest review.