Gunning for the Godman | Book Review
Gunning for the Godman | Book Review
Gunning for the Godman – Book Review
Book: Gunning for the Godman
Author: Ajay Lamba with Sanjeev Mathur
Reviewed By: Manas Mukul
Publisher: HarperCollins (5 Sep 2020)
Pages: 240 (Paperback)
Price: 499 INR
Genre: True Crime
My rating: 4/5
India is a country with customs and rituals that have been practiced and passed through generations over the centuries. With these customs, With these customs, certain godmen think that they are the custodian of these rituals as well as God. Gunning for the Godman by Ajay Lamba along with Sanjeev Mathur is the real-life crime and capture story of one of the most famous Godmen this country has ever seen.
A government report highlights, ‘A rape in India happens every 15 minutes.’ As per NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau), every fourth rape in India is of a minor and in almost 94% of the cases, the offenders are usually known to the victims. This is a true-crime story of a minor raped by their family godman. I would like to express my gratitude towards Blogchatter’s Book Review Program for considering me this book review and I am beginning to develop a fondness for the non-fiction genre.
About the Author
An electronics engineer by training, Ajay Lamba worked in HCL Infosystems, Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), the Centre for Development of Telematics (CDoT), the Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Railways and the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) before joining the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 2005. In August 2018, he was awarded the Rajasthan government’s highest police award for his commendable work in the Asaram case.
The cover of the book has a fierce-eyed Asaram’s image. The title ‘Gunning for the Godman’ suits perfectly although the font selection for the title and the tagline could have been a little subtle. The back cover also has the same picture of Asaram in a smaller format along with a pair of handcuffs hovering over him. It has a blurb and a couple of testimonials to go along with it.
Most of the people who would have followed any news around the period from August 2013 to mid of 2018 would have definitely come across this case because of the high profile controversial angle to the case and the extensive media coverage it got. The story here is Ajay Lamba’s account behind the capture and conviction of Asaram Bapu. Ajay Lamba was the senior IPS officer who was heading a team of twenty super cops behind the entire operation.
The story begins when a 16-year old registers an FIR for rape against the godman on 15th august 2013. The major part of the events takes place in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Over ten chapters Ajay and Sanjeev discuss the details of the case, firstly the original account of the victim, then the exact events around the capture of the ever-elusive godman and then the proceedings of the court through till the conviction is secured by the prosecution.
It was surprising to see that none of the team members, despite it being a size of twenty, budged from their role and duty. Nobody got lured or chose corrupt methods to dilute the case because in real-life scenarios one encounters almost something entirely opposite to this.
One more thing we have to keep in mind, the writer is the person who headed the investigation and so it is his account and hence it would lopsided heavily towards making his team and him a hero. Well, then we aren’t here to discuss the merits of the case, we are simply here to discuss how well the book is written and how comprehensible is the storytelling.
There is a dialogue from a famous Bollywood movie that if all the policemen decide to work honestly and truly carry out their responsibility then nobody would ever have the courage to even snatch away a toy from a child. This true-crime non-fiction showcases police in that light.
Ajay Lamba has found the right partner in Sanjeev Mathur. He has brought his editing and years of writing experience to the best use. You can find his contribution to the crispiness of the focussed storytelling. The pace is terrific throughout the book and the vocabulary and lucid style of writing ably complement it. The story in itself should be a big selling point because of the buzz that this high profile case has garnered over the years.
The detailing could have been a bit better. Although the 200-page length is a big positive in non-fiction like the more details the better it is for the reader. Apart from a couple of mentions, we don’t know what happens in the life of Asaram’s family during the course of the case though in real life through the news stories we know that a lot was happening. There were four other accomplices, the charges against whom were also discussed in the book but what happens to their sentencing has been missed by the authors.
When a godman commits such a heinous crime, it is not only about the rape of a minor girl, it is actually about raping the trust of millions of followers. Your liking of the book depends upon which side you are on – some are still die-hard fans/followers of him who still believe in his innocence and then there are some who believe that rule of law has prevailed.
For a neutral reader, this is going to be an interesting read. A non-fiction written in the style of a crime thriller which is soon going to be a major motion picture. I am going with four out of five stars for Ajay Lamba and Sanjeev Mathur’s Gunning for the Godman. Don’t miss it.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul
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