Revolution in South Asia

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Archive for November 14th, 2008

First Hand Account: People’s War in India, Part 1

Posted by irisbright on November 14, 2008

naxal5This is a first hand account of how Naxalite fighters live in India. It was originally titled: “Karl and the Kalishnakov: Notes from the diary of Chindu Sreedharan, who spent 82 hours with the People’s War guerillas [in 1998]” Though this piece is ten years old, it gives a sense of the movement grouping among India’s oppressed. The photos are original to the article. This is part one. Part two can be found here. Thanks to Behrooz Navaii for sharing this article with us.

By Chindu Sreedharan

As our vehicle carries me past Chandrapur, right into the heart of Naxal country, I know what to expect in the coming few days. I would be walking the sweltering Dandakaranya jungles in the company of the banned People’s War Group guerrillas, surviving on what the tribals can get us past police eyes and running the risk of malaria. If it rained, I would be wading through leech-filled sucking slush. And sleeping in the open on plastic sheets, an easy prey for any snake or centipede that cares to crawl my way.

As bonus, I stand a good chance of getting shot by the cops. Or, if more fortunate, catching the wrong end of their rifle right in my face.

Yet, all I can feel is exhilaration.

Days later, as I write this in Bombay, soothing my arms that have become a mass of mosquito bites, I can feel the adrenalin pumping. My fingertips tingle as they rush over the keyboard. Is being on the wrong side of the law always so thrilling?

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First Hand Account: People’s War in India, Part 2

Posted by irisbright on November 14, 2008

naxal13This is a first hand account of how Naxalite fighters live in India. It was originally titled: “Karl and the Kalishnakov: Notes from the diary of Chindu Sreedharan, who spent 82 hours with the People’s War guerillas [in 1998]” The photos are original to the article. This is part two. Part one can be found here. Thanks to Behrooz Navaii for sharing this article with us.

By Chindu Sreedharan

July 25: Women make better guerillas than men

Up at 0530 hours after a miserable night. It was a false alarm. Though we hadn’t had to flee, and had even got food, sleep was a commodity which none of us managed enough. The mosquito repellent failed me completely. And it was a sticky hot night to boot.

We are to trek to a safe place, about 40 minutes away, shortly. There we would stay for the next two days.

I learn something more about jungle life this morning: here everything, even an empty plastic bag, is invaluable.

Off to answer the second call of nature, I am handed my ration of water in a plastic bag. I walk into the bushes, clutching its mouth close and praying the water won’t ooze out before I finish. Fortunately, it doesn’t. But I commit a cardinal sin: I toss the bag away after I finish! The only excuse I can offer for my thoughtlessness is that I was somewhat hurried in my exercise by the undue interest of a cowherd, whose presence I discovered very, very late in the proceeding.

Vishwanath’s face falls as I return empty-handed.

Isse bina idhar kaam nahin chalta, bhaiyya (We can’t do the job without this),” he tells me. Chastened, I walk back to the camp, promising myself never to be so stupid again.

The morning also teaches me another lesson: that it takes no effort to get lost in this jungle. You think you know where you are going, but you don’t. On my way back after the unfortunate encounter, I wander off in a direction which I think is right — and nearly stumble on G.

“Hey, where do you think you are going?” comes his panicked shout from behind some bushes, “The camp is that way!”

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