Something was awry in these forests. Dread roamed here. Cultivated in plenty amidst shrubs that barely held form, in isolated pathways where lay thorns and dead leaves, where the despair cried their last sigh, where in whispers one revealed shrouds of agony, was grief and loneliness. There in the wretched summer heat, away from the […]Read more "‘I lost count of the bruises of my body. I was tortured, assaulted and jailed. Now, death is all I hope for: Kawasi Hidme’"
In late spring, the leaves changed colour. In some farmlands, we’d spot hues of yellow, red and ochre amidst trees in those places where the winds changed direction and brought rain. Flowers blossomed that month. Some withered and faded into creases of the soil. Sunk in the grass were fresh sprigs that sprung towards the […]Read more "Manish Kunjam: ‘Adivasis deserve peace! We must end this war. There should be a dialogue between us and them…’"
“My father was arrested because of me. My work as a journalist and my involvement in bringing to light issues faced by adivasis in Bastar had consequences. Over the years, my family paid a heavy price. The men in uniform barged into my home. They couldn’t find me. So, they took my father away. […]Read more "They aren’t pathways or endings. They aren’t records or data. They are human beings…"
There were specks of green shrouded in red dust: a sight not lost on its inhabitants. Dust swirled in the skies, and gathered on the windowsills. The winds carried them further; a dreadful sight to us – the outsiders – who came to these lands to write its tales: some forgotten, some buried and some […]Read more "Conflict, displacement and toxic water: Adivasis of Bastar speak of lost lands and dead lakes…"
“When are we meeting again?” asked Soni Sori, that morning. At the Geedam junction, a few weeks ago, we first met her and Lingaram Kodopi. Their car was parked across the road. There were soldiers stationed outside her home. In all the times that we set foot in her house, over the years, they never […]Read more "Laal paani, laal dhool, laal salaam: In a sea of red, adivasis struggle to find what was once theirs…"
At the end of a lone street, there stood a blue house. Where lay nothing but mud roads that led to settlements near the hills, we passed by that house at a junction in Cholnar. A frail old woman stared ahead at nothing before her. She sat there at the doorstep most days. Her name […]Read more "They called him a police informant. They killed my son: Jogi Mandavi"
From the corner of the road, the paddy fields gleamed in the sun. It had rained a few days ago. Amidst distant hills, wreaths of smoke curled in the air. Some days, a dull roar of engines ricocheted in the distance. The silence returned a while later, almost always. One late summer afternoon, as we […]Read more "In the shadow of the gun, you can’t have peace: Bela Bhatia"
A sense of normalcy prevailed. Unsettling and strange, it belonged here in the midst of a chaotic past and an obscure present. Normalcy: here in the constant is where one often sought its presence. “This is our normal,” remarked Suresh once when we spoke of solitary days and rains underneath an old mahua tree. Like […]Read more "Salwa Judum went very well. It was the birth of a revolution: Chaitram Atami"
His suggestions were unfounded. There was nothing he could do to convince us. “Why would IG Kalluri inquire about us?” we asked him to his annoyance. He didn’t answer. He refused to look up, and scribbled away furiously in an old register at the counter. He overcharged his customers, and sometimes quarrelled with them over […]Read more "Of Conflict, displacement and loss: Tales from an old Salwa Judum Camp"
These farmlands remained unseen. That was a different time, said the elders. Trees were taller, and the flowers bloomed in spring. Summers didn’t last forever. We tread carefully alongside these roads. Where the village ended, dead trees stood upright in corners. Before us, were lands that held nothing anymore; a vast emptiness that shrouded these […]Read more "Entering the Red Corridor…"