Excerpt from the review in EPW by Sharib Ali
What Kafkaland: Prejudice, Law and Counterterrorism in India has to say is indeed odd and tragic. Sethi’s canvas is specific. It is not Kashmir, not the north-east, not “Naxal”. It is bomb blasts, attacks, conspiracies in “mainland” Indian cities and towns, which have together constituted the charge of “Islamist terrorism” – one of the fundamental signifiers post-2001. Meticulously examining more than 30 cases in their entirety including charge sheets, trials, media reports, conversations, etc, and the public discourse around them closely controlled by the “security analysts”, the “experts” and talk shows with police officers and politicians, as well as a close look at the military industrial complex, Sethi lays bare what Talal Asad calls “death dealing in liberal democratic times”. In the first thorough account of India’s war on terror, Sethi shows how the Indian state, in its indigenous ways, has conducted its war on terror by killing, maiming and accusing its own people of waging a war against it. How the state has rewritten its laws to suit its needs. And how it has in an ultimate sovereign act raised itself above its laws and transformed the taking away of the fundamental right to life into “breathtakingly sterile officialese”, or the sheer domesticity of Ab Tak Chhappan where Nana Patekar’s wife asks him to wash the blood stains off his shirt while giving instructions for the perfect sambar preparation.
To read the full review, go to http://www.epw.in/book-reviews/securing-nation-state-terrorist.html