Title— The Burning School
Author— Sandesh Raj
Genre— Crime, Thriller & Mystery
The Burning School by Sandesh Raj is definitely one of the untold stories from Kashmir. This novel was running a little over 400 pages, but it became one of my favourite in the recent time. Why? Because the novel was written about a concrete them: education empowers the people. You heard it right. The novel features Naved as the lead character, he is passed out from IIM, but still chooses to work for poor students in Kashmir. He is from Lucknow. He hails from an army family. Despite knowing the terrorism in Kashmir, he goes there to teach students preparing for the IIT exams. As he reached there, a new land awaits him. He gets company of one of the close students named Ashraf who also arranges for his home and food.
Naved is sad to see that there schools are being burnt by the terrorists so that children can be used as stone pelters to disturb the armed forces. As Naved delves deep, he finds that students are scared to go to schools or matter of fact there aren’t enough schools left in his area of sojourn Baramulla. Naved takes up the challenge not only to prepare aspirants for IIT exams but also to reopen schools for young children. How and why, fills the most narration in the story.
Naved’s journey to empower students by education is not so smooth, he has to first face the distrust of the locals and the threat of terrorists and the intervention of local police. Will he be able to succeed in his mission or would land up in jail just like any random terrorist?
After some initial chapters, the story takes us to a higher level and a new era of thrill begins. I totally enjoyed his journey and the local flavour and his involvement with the soul of Kashmir. I appreciate the overall structural concept of the story. Sandesh Raj is a highly promising author with the ability of building great stories on humanitarian ground. The novel is lucid to read and have good grasp over pace. All in all, a good story with amazing sub plots and twists.