Book review | Khaki in Dust Storm by Amod K. Kanth


Author: Amod K. Kanth

Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir

No. of pages: 319

Published by: Bloomsbury India

Published on: 18th December 2020

Format: Hardcover

My rating: ★★★★★

Khaki in Dust Storm is a gripping story of immersive investigations led by the celebrated police officer Amod K. Kanth who found himself at the vortex of India's tumultuous period of the 1980s and early 1990s. An era of dramatic crime, assassinations and terrorism, this period witnessed the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and the horrific riots that followed; the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi; the murder of Lalit Maken and General Vaidya; public attacks by terrorists and bloodbaths at the peak of the Khalistani militancy; India's first-ever organised mass explosions through improvised electronic device in 1985, popularly known as 'transistor bombs'; and the growing influence of drug abuse and financial frauds. Leading into the minefield of these most sensational crime investigations that rocked India, he reveals in this book facts, stories and anecdotes that have hitherto remained outside the public discourse. He pieces together the details, narrates behind-the-scene manoeuvres, and carefully constructs the psyche of the perpetrators and the backdrop, weaving together a fantastic and powerful tale.

This is also a story of a cathartic evolution of a police officer who, after landing in the coveted Indian Police Service, finds his dreams challenged and confined to the restricted role in the face of India's myopic conventional policing. This resulted in his eventual metamorphosis, overwhelmed by the need to search for a wider and transformative perspective in policing that could lay the groundwork for more expanded and gratifying interactions between the police and the community.

Khaki in Dust Storm by Amod K. Kanth brings forward one of India's most riotous political period. Spanning from 1981 to 1994, Amod K. Kanth - one of India's most esteemed and illustrious IPS officers (who later takes on the role of DGP) - talks about all the tumultuous events he underwent when he was posted in Delhi. From former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Operation Blue Star and the subsequent rise of India's religious riots to India's biggest drug bust, Amod K. Kanth has been subjected to all such events. 

Through this book, we as readers and the common men of India, gets to witness what went on behind the curtains. Kanth gives us detailed accounts of the unfortunate events that succeeded Indira Gandhi's assassination. The communal riots, the Khalistani associations, the wrongful arrests, the deeper communal grievances that led to the unforgettable event - Kanth decodes all of them.

We often believe that the policemen have their hands dirty always, but Kanth shows us the humane and empathetic side of these policemen. Kanth is one such police personnel who always believed in the rights of the countrymen. His perseverance and his work for the common men - be it standing up against his superiors when needed, or be it humanitarian work - Kanth shows his strong beliefs in people-oriented policing. 

Khaki in Dust Storm unfurl many events in details. Indira Gandhi's assassination, the Hindu-Sikh riots, Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, a major drug operation during 1984-86, and many such significant events have been dealt with in the book. From giving us first-hand encounters of the crime and investigations, to the finesse with which the associating crimes were uncovered (one interesting event being the series of transistor bombings), Kanth constructs a powerful book. 

This book has an incredible narration. As Kanth tells us about his work as a police officer, there are times when it will make you think how hard it is for the good cops to work in an otherwise corrupt system. Not only does Kanth talk about his work, but also his personal life and his childhood - how he was inspired to become a public servant.

Kanth refers to the events of his police career that threw him in a pinch as 'dust storms'. And we have been present in his journey of fighting against these 'dust storms' through this incredibly crafted book. Kanth's journey for bringing innovations and justice to the country is awe-inspiring; and this book is not just uplifting but an informational bundle of one of India's darkest period. 

Since the very beginning of my police career, I was intrigued about the strange ways of the Criminal Justice System and the role of the police as the ‘prime movers’. For nearly 20 years, I operated within the post-1857—the first war of India’s independence—archaic criminal laws—IPC, Cr.PC and Evidence Act—coupled with the Police Act, 1861. Later, I dealt with many high-profile cases, such as Charles Sobhraj Tihar Jail escape, Jessica Lal murder, BMW road massacre, Romesh Sharma political mafia, all of which expose the deep malaise in the system. Since it concerns everyone—rich and poor, small and big—I have decided to narrate these cases as well, which have remained prominently in the public domain.

I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. 


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