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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sneaky-Peeky Sundays: Known Turf by author Annie Zaidi



As part of the Sneaky-Peeky Sunday here on The Book Worm, here's the page Im reading from this interesting non-fiction book called Known Turf by Annie Zaidi. This is a complimentary review copy sent by Crossword as part of their Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2010. This is NOT a purchased copy.

'...the then inspector-general of Police. He was, at the moment, huddled with all the top cops of the area in an emergency meeting that would decide their strategy for catching the Gadariya gang. After the meeting, they swore a solemn oath: they would get the Gadariyas. Dead or alive, within the month.

As it turned out, it took several months of chases and 'encounters' before the gang was stamped out, one by one. But at the time, it was whispered that Rambabu was a marked man. Everywhere one went, whispers would be reckoning: does Rambabu have one month, or two? That he would die was a foregone conclusion; the question was: when?

Rambabu led the Gadariya gang along with his brother Dayaram. The rest of the gang comprised their cousins or caste-brothers, barring a couple of members who came from local tribes in the forests. The gang was legend and not just because they pulled off a few daring kidnappings or executed their enemies in dramatic fashion. They also played Robin Hood in the right places and, whatever else they did, they didn't hurt women. In fact, that was one of the first things I heard about the gang; they don't touch women. If they happened to meet one, they'd call her 'sister' and give her a token present of money.

This won the gang some fierce loyalists. There is not a woman in the Chambal who can find it in her heart to condemn Rambabu-Dayaram without an accompanying pang of pity, or perhaps an emotion that goes beyond pity (barring, of course those whose sons or husbands were killed). One of the local social activists, whom I later got to know well enough for her to confide in me, used to say, dreamy-eyed, that she wanted to meet Rambabu, for she was convinced that he couldn't possibly be a bad man.

'Suffering led him to where he is. (Sigh!) Those brothers were humiliated....some great tragedy must have driven them out of......



- Debolina Raja Gupta