Author: Mayank Bhatt
Publisher: Mawenzi House
Price: Kindle edition Rs. 399
Mayank Bhatt’s debut novel ‘Belief’ is out. Mayank was a journalist in Mumbai and immigrated to Canada in 2008. He witnessed how Mumbai was changing and also how city was getting polarized on the basis of religion. His novel touches the same issue. The novel revolves around a Muslim family of Abdul, Ruksana and their daughter Ziram and son Rafiq. They migrated to Canada from Mumbai after 1992-93 riots and serial bomb blasts. Their house in Andheri’s Teli Galli was burnt down by a communal gang. They were trade unionists. Their office was also burnt down and their leader, friend Dhinmant was brutally murdered.
The family lost everything but not the hope. They immigrated to Canada and started a new life in Mississauga, Ontario. They struggled, work hard and finally after many years of hard work they could build their own house. They gave appropriate name to their building i.e. Manzil (destination). They thought they found their destination. But, it was not that easy. The global scenario was changing. Militancy in Muslim countries was affecting prospects of Muslims living in other countries especially in US, Canada and Europe. At the same time, a section of Muslims were getting radical. The influence of Wahabism was spreading and militants were targeting western world. They are trying and tap young Muslims living in the western world.
Ziram and Rafiq started earning. Ziram got married in the same city. She used to regularly visit her parents and teach computer to father. One day while teaching computer to her father on Rafiq’s laptop she found a file and that again shattered the life of the family. The file contained some email exchange between Rafiq and one Ghani Ahmed. It was about the plans to bomb public places in Toronto. They immediately called him. At the same time, they called their neighbor Kartar and a police officer Ravinder. Ultimately, police arrested him for the alleged links he had with terrorists. Later on, he explained to his lawyer, who is known for taking up the issues of human rights, and parents that he had stopped communicating with the Ghani Ahmed some time ago as he realized the killings cannot be remedy for the injustice done to the Muslims. Yet, called a rank terrorist like Ghani Ahmed ‘Saab’ out of respect. Rafiq had surveyed some crowded areas, roads for Ghani Ahmed. It was during one survey he saw a Muslim woman in Burqa eating in a crowded restaurant with her small kid and he realized that killing of innocent persons is against the humanity.
In jail, he was treated badly. His human rights were violated. Though he was treated much better compared to the treatment prisoners gets in Indian jails. Rafiq gets bail thanks to Anita and other friends of Abdul and Ruksana. The surprising part is once Abdul was a confident person and Dhinmant had given him responsibility of forming unions in Poona. But, Abdul had lost self-confidence since their arrival in Canada. Such things do happen in case of immigrants. Many times they live in dilemmas like Abdul and Ruksana. They always think of Mumbai, India. Abdul and Ruksana’s love for the Mumbai city continues to remain. But, Ziram and Rafiq’s love for Mumbai was not as strong as their parents. These happen with most of the migrants. The next generations of immigrants are attracted to new life style and get involved in it.
The family migrated to Canada because they lost everything in 1992-93. They thought they can start a new life in Canada. They will not be discriminated on the basis of religion. But, it was not true. The family was horrified when they saw attacks on Mumbai in 2008. Even Rafiq was horrified. It was in this background Rafiq decided to commit suicide by taking overdose of sleeping pills. He was admitted in the hospital and survived.
The author has narrated the incidences brilliantly. He refers to the 1992-93 riots and serial blasts, 2008 attacks on Mumbai, the trade union scenario etc. It also gives us idea how young Muslims are tapped by terrorists and influence them. They use social media and internet to influence young minds. They lie. They try to influence immigrants and their kids as they migrate to another country because of some persecution or harassment. Militants look for such people, who can be influenced easily and they found Rafiq.
The book is an eye-opener. Terrorists and their sleeping cells work at a different level and they look for kids of immigrants. They know the life of immigrants is not easy and can be influenced in the name of religion. The author himself struggled a lot before he established himself.