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Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s new book narrates a tale of love across barriers

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhar Abbas Naqvi during his public outreach programme in Srinagar.

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhar Abbas Naqvi during his public outreach programme in Srinagar.   | Photo Credit: PTI

In charge of Minorities Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s debut novel bridges religious divides

Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who grabbed headlines this week for being the first minister in the Modi government to visit the Kashmir Valley, including an impromptu walkabout at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, will soon release his Hindi novel Balwa (Diamond Books), a fictional capture of love across the religious divide in the communally contested politics of the 1990s.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr Naqvi, who has screenwriter credits for Madhur Bhandarkar’s films “Corporate” and “Traffic Signal”, said the novel is drawn from his own experiences of how vested interests create communal strife and how common people are reeled in.

“This book has been with me for sometime, I took the time to complete it lately. The main characters in this book include religious leaders Maulana Mushtaq and Sankata Prasad and how a set of youngsters first get embroiled in their political games and then see through it all to strike a blow for love,” he said.

The plot includes descriptions of the administration and police and how they handle communally sensitive situations. Coming from the Minority Affairs Minister, the novel is interesting in the way that it frames communal conflict and the reasons behind it.

Kashmir interaction

Mr Naqvi, just back from Kashmir valley, said that he broke with protocol and his fixed itinerary to do a walkabout at Lal Chowk to the consternation of officials, but was heartened by the response he got from the people.

The cover of Balwa by Abbas Naqvi.

The cover of Balwa by Abbas Naqvi.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

 

“I decided to stop my car and just walk around the market, and it took a while for people to realise that I was a Minister in the Government of India. The interaction was warm and I saw a different atmosphere than what people think in Delhi,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi’s brief to all touring ministers (36 in all, with Mr Naqvi being the first to visit the Valley) was to hold dialogue with as many delegations and people as possible, and try and bridge the developmental gaps.

“He told us to listen carefully to the people, especially if they are talking about long standing demands for schools, hospitals or roads etc. Railway connectivity was one of the big asks from the delegations that I met, and also boosting of tourism,” Mr Naqvi said.

When asked if anyone spoke of the lack on Internet connectivity in the Valley, Mr Naqvi said the Internet was available for essential services, but that the local administration had to take its own call keeping the security situation in mind.

Flurry of books

The novel Balwa is only the first of a three novel series that Mr. Naqvi is looking to release this year; the other two are Raj Leela and Cyber Supari.

The first in the series will be an interesting read for those not only interested in novels but also as a peek into the mind of India’s Minister for Minorities in the time of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 7:31:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ministers-tale-of-love-across-barriers/article30635449.ece

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