Murder in the Bylanes by Aloke Lal and Maanas Lal
My take on the book:
In the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition in Dec 1992, entire India, especially Uttar Pradesh was in a sensitive spot. The Muslim community lost thousands of lives and when the local police and politicians did not pay attention to their complaints of these deaths, they were invariably in a foul temper against the Hindus. The author Aloke Lal has taken charge as the Deputy Inspector General of Kanpur in 1993, when the situation was very tense.
The author recollects the events that happened from the day he took charge — to the sudden death of Kala Bachcha, a local slum leader. From lending his support to environmentalists, to patrolling in sensitive areas avoided by the local police to gathering reliable informers, the author gives insight into how a new police officer tries to maintain the peace of a city under his purview.
The book actually gets into the main action after the death of Kala Bachcha and hence begins the long journey of investigation while handling the sudden riots and unrest in the city, amidst ploys of the politicians to utilize such scenarios for their own benefits.
The book is a short read, but the author manages to squeeze in as much details of the happenings between 1993–94 in Kanpur. There is a chapter in the middle about the historical significance of the place as well as the political past till 92. The book is definitely a serious read and for those who are intrigued to read about these events from the point of view of a police officer, narrating the first-hand account of these disturbing memories.
The author also succeeds in making the book very honest and unbiased from beginning to end, thus giving the reader the satisfaction of knowing the facts instead of the author’s opinions. Some amount of jargon and details of the working of the police force needs attention from the reader.
If you like reading real-life stories especially with a bit of political inclinations and religious undercurrents, then definitely pick this one.