‘Operation Jai Mata Di’ by Pratik Shah is a book which, despite of its hackneyed writing and weak plot is imbued with drama and action. Yes, the plotline does not really bow down to the logic of physics but the dramatic element of its storyline works as its saving grace. At the same time, the drama element overshadows thriller component and somewhere, it dampens both the pace and plot. The thrill goes obsolete by the end of the story. Its rapturous climax can qualify as cute but not exciting. Nonetheless, there is plenty for readers to enjoy – politics, terrorism, helicopters, bullets and plenty of tricks to fire a fertile imagination. And, yes, there is media also.
‘Operation Jai Mata Di’ states that terrorism is more of a threat from within a society than from the real terrorists. Terrorism is the only way for the people when getting their grievances heard through regular channels doesn’t work. So, in a way, terrorism is not only an expression of rage and defenselessness, but also a sense of betrayal. Anger and helplessness, according to the author, makes people do things they would normally not do.
The plot follows the story of over 10,000 pilgrims, who are taken hostages by some unknown armed men. This hostage situation occurs en route to the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi, a popular Hindu religious place situated in the northern part of India. These armed men threaten to kill two pilgrims every day if their demands are not accepted by the Indian government. Will government accede to their demands? Who are these armed men? Do they belong to some terrorist group? What were their demands? I won’t disclose anything here and you will have to read the book to know the answers of all these questions.
The language of the book is simple and easy to follow. However, there is not even a single line, which forces you to think hard. The author did not invest much time to develop his characters and, therefore, none of the characters impress you. I would have loved to get into the head of the characters to understand their psychological conditions in a better way.
The little thriller unveils itself layer by layer as scenes shuttle between past and present. It moves at a fair pace and the author has done a great job of weaving a number of current events in the form of a story. However, at the same time, while the author has tried to raise a number of contemporary issues like corruption, administrative apathy and terrorism in the form of a well woven storyline, there is a lack of realism. Many of the scenes are unbelievable.
Please don’t let my slight dislike deter you from picking up this book. While this is not an edge of the seat type of thriller, it will certainly appeal to the readers who love reading hostage type of situations. This is the first novel of the author and I am sure he will go from strength to strength.