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To Make Your Reader Wonder ‘Is This Even Possible?’: Juggi Bhasin On Crime Fiction And More

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This post is a part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s coverage of the HT Crime Writers Festival:

By Krishangi Singh:

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As one of India’s first few TV journalists, he witnessed and reported the Babri Masjid demolition and the following riots as they spread like wildfire through the state.

At a time when television media had just begun to expand in the country, television reporting was a prowess that very few held. However, from journalism, to entrepreneurship, to penmanship, writer Juggi Bhasin has skills spanning across a wide-range of domains. Famous for his fast paced geo-political thriller ‘The Terrorist’ and ‘The Avenger’, the author is back with the third installment in the series – ‘Blood Song’.

At the recently held HT Crime Writers Festival, Youth Ki Awaaz engaged in a vivacious conversation with the author over mastering the forte of crime fiction, the fate of Indian television media, and more.

Tell us a little bit about your new book ‘Blood Song’.

Blood Song is the story of a girl called Simran who is based at Southall in London, but due to an event that occurs in her life, she is supposed to come to Amritsar in Punjab. It’s her entire journey and what happens to her that she lands up in a terror plot and then how she encounters a sinister Godman is what forms the story.

The current television media trend of excessive debating and exaggerating events has invaded nearly all channels. Where do you think the Indian media is going?

Well to some extent we’re also doing what is happening all around the world. There is nothing wrong with having television debates. The only thing we’re not doing is giving enough field reports. It’s so easy to get people in studios for a debate but you need more people on the ground covering and reporting events. A lot of debates are pointless as everybody has heard and seen the same thing again and again, so a new format has to come in which excites people again.

You have extensively covered the Babri Masjid demolition and Kashmir insurgency. Could you tell us about some moments that particularly stood out?

Back then we didn’t have satellite TV so there were a few handpicked channels, and I used to work for Doordarshan news. I was covering the event and it was all captured on our tapes. So, after the demolition had happened, there was a lot of confusion and there were many threats to our lives. We had to take our cameras and leave from there to Lucknow. So what really stuck in my mind was that the riots actually took place after the Babri demolition and spread with lightning speed.

When we went to Lucknow and then came back to Delhi, en route we could see that literally all of UP was on fire. So much was happening around us and we felt so powerless. The speed of the riots was unimaginable and it is nothing I ever want to witness again.

You worked as a TV journalist for a decade before venturing into other businesses. Did any skills you acquired as a journalist help you in writing your books?

Absolutely! One thing that I really like doing in my books is to combine fiction with reality. So, a lot of incidents which I witnessed as a journalist, such as Kashmir insurgency, somehow in one aspect or the other came into my novels.

What would you say is the most difficult aspect of writing crime novels?

I think that while writing crime novels, you have to be absolutely sure. There is a forensic element that comes in while writing crime fiction, which means that you have to be absolutely certain about the events you’re discussing and people you’re talking about. There can be nothing left to chance because you’ll look really stupid if you don’t tie up loose ends. The entire endeavor of a crime novel is what we call ‘thrills and chills’ and every page of the novel has to be a page-turner, which keeps the reader glued to the novel.

For instance ‘Jack the Ripper’ to my mind, remains one of the most enigmatic and interesting sequences in crime thrillers because till now no one has been able to figure out who he really is and the original writing had hundreds of theories flying around. So if you can make your reader think ‘is this even possible?’, then your novel is going to be successful.


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Juggi Bhasin

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What does your writing space look like?

I have a very well equipped study where I love to write. I do believe that this entire concept of writing in front of scenic views is highly exaggerated.

What aspiring authors must not do…

Look up to someone, that is fine, but never ever copy anyone. Always look for your own individual style.

Tea Or Coffee? Early Bird or Creature of the Night? Road trip or flying?

Tea. Creature of the night. Road trip.

Okay to sip wine while writing?

Never. You should keep your head absolutely clear while writing.

What do you do when you hit the mythical Writer’s Block?

Honestly I think this is very exaggerated. There are days when you don’t produce the best content but I don’t think that I have ever faced one.

And where does one find that mystical Muse?

We live in a country where so much is happening 24×7, so you don’t really have to venture out to find inspiration. It’s all around you!

If not a writer, you’d be?

I would have loved to be a film director.

A character of your own creation you have fallen for?

Suri, my protagonist in all three novels.

A character from a movie or book you wish you could be…

When I was younger I felt really captivated by Robert De Niro’s role in Taxi Driver.

A book’s ending you wish you could change (not yours) and how…

I wish Shakespeare’s tragedies had happier endings.

Critical acclaim or crazy screaming fans?


The one author you’d be happy to swap lives with?

J.K. Rowling [/alert]


To know more about the author and his work, check out his website.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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