In the summer of 1995, six tourists were kidnapped from the lush, pine-scented camping spot, nicknamed The Meadow, in the valleys of Kashmir. The ransom note said the kidnappers were from an Islamic outfit and that they wanted the release of Pakistani militant leader Maulana Masood Azhar (later responsible for the attack on the Indian Parliament). The kidnapping electrified the world and, for the first time, put the global spotlight on Kashmir.
The Meadow is the story of the incident that shook the world and paved the way for modern terrorism. Written by Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, the book examines and explores the brutal kidnapping, providing insight into the families of the kidnapped as well as the militants, drawing on classified police reports and recordings of Indian government negotiations. The authors also talk to some of the jihadis involved. The book also gives an account of a hair-raising escape by one of the prisoners, the cold-blooded beheading of another and the secret letter one of them carved on a birch. In the background the families of the missing struggled to keep their hopes alive, international governments negotiated frantically with India, and the army, police and intelligence services tried to follow the trail. But the remaining four hostages were never found, their case forgotten; until now. Azhar was eventually freed in exchange for 178 Indian Airlines passengers whose jet was hijacked and flown to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in 1999. The Meadow gives a blow-by-blow account of how the fates of these young men from different hemispheres were caught in a bloody fight, as they became bargaining chips for in an alien struggle.
Both Scott-Clark and Levy reported for The Sunday Times magazine in South Asia and then became foreign correspondents based in Delhi. After their move to The Guardian, they worked across Asia. Both papers required them to follow the issue of Kashmir closely. In 2009, the One World Trust named them British Journalists of the Year. They have also won Foreign Correspondents of the Year, in 2004. Together, they have written three books, including the acclaimed Deception.
Bottomline: The story of the incident that shook the world and paved the way for modern terrorism
The Meadow: Kashmir 1995; Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, Penguin India, Rs. 499