Fiction is often seen as an escape strategy from real world problems. The fantastical, the magical, the coerced and the manipulated endings that suit the end if not the means. After all, it is all imaginary. Sami Ahmed Khan’s first book Red Jihad has beginnings like that. However, when the thought that creates the plot germinate from every day atrocities, a potential solution perhaps lies in it as well. Perhaps.
Red Jihad took form in 2010, explains Khan. After a whole year [and more] of repeated editing, additions and deletions – his publishers agreed to pick up the manuscript for print. ‘I am glad they chose my book,’ says Khan, a first time author who has not dabbled in anything more serious since his academic papers and the PhD thesis that he is currently working on.
The extreme left and the extreme right, are after all two sides of the same terror coin. The title of the book – Red Jihad – can literally be broken down to ‘the holy war by the extreme communists’. Khan’s Red Jihad is all about the much feared Jihadi’s joining hands with the equally volatile Naxalites to create a war between two nuclear power equipped countries – India and Pakistan. And only one man can save the day. Sounds like a perfect high-end Bond film? Let’s be hopeful!
‘I did not draw inspiration from the every day atrocities of civil war and terrorism,’ says Khan, ‘I wanted people to think about the current political scenario and understand that any man who picks up the weapon against another is a terrorist. Not only the Jihadis, but the Naxals as well. It is wrong to brand one killer as an extremist and the other as a terrorist.’ He very particularly leaves out the word ‘terrorist’ when it comes to the book. He’s not taking sides, he adds, he doesn’t need to. But the need is dire for people to understand that any form of terror against the human race must be taken very seriously, though at times coated perfectly by a thrilling scenario in a novel. Working with the logic that my enemy’s enemy is my friend – the protagonists of Red Jihad unite to cause havoc between the two countries that by 2014 have managed to stabilise relations despite their trouble plagued past.
The action is based in 2014 and that perhaps gives the book a science fiction -ish feel with the past-future analogy, but that is all explains Khan.
Influenced heavily by Star Trek, Khan explains that Red Jihad has no connection to the intergalactic battles. He wanted to create something that most readers would be aware of.
Therefore, in the current scenario, an Indo-Pak cricket match seemed the best bet. People can relate to it and who does not like an Indo-Pak thriller of a match asks Khan.
Currently a researcher in JNU, Khan’s hopes to work on his second book soon.