In the forests that stretched before us stood a dead bark in forlorn stillness. The trees remained unruffled. Beneath them laid shattered fragments of twigs, branches and flowers spread across the earth. In a sea of dead leaves, one spotted specks of green rising in its midst. Where clusters of large and stout […]Read more "Life of an organic farmer in a mining town, Bhima Ram: I have sworn to serve mother earth with my mind, body and wealth"
It rained all night. At dawn, a distant swarm of birds adorned the skies far away. Near the railway tracks, in lone farmlands, we spotted a few women sitting under a large mahua tree. At Geedam, in a house situated adjacent to the main road, military fatigues lay haphazardly on a wooden cot. The men […]Read more "Peace can never be attained through violence and weapons: Soni Sori"
These roads led nowhere. While maneuvering irregular edges and giant potholes, the vehicle tumbled slightly to the right. Such rickety paths seldom held form. The rains worsened their structure over the last few weeks. Forest trails were strewn with broken twigs and branches. Occasionally, we would spot squirrels leaping from one branch to another before […]Read more "Whoever had to go away has already gone. Bhima is dead. Nothing will change that: Poje Madavi"
Back towards the crossroads we drove again for the weather turned rogue the third time we travelled to Mardum over the last few days. The village seemed far away. Ahead, the paths turned murky as we drove past signboards that led us back to Dantewada. Storm clouds hovered over the hills and the smoky trail […]Read more "In the middle of the night, they dragged him away from his family. His body was discovered days later…"
In the languid air, branches moved to and fro gently stirring blossoms that adorned these forests in summer. The winds carried broken petals across the road. Some days, riding an invisible current of air were butterflies that fluttered in clusters around plants. The sullen murmur of insects caught his attention. His nonchalant gaze followed our […]Read more "It’s all a game of survival, you know! We were around death, throughout. Men died before our eyes. Some we knew. Many we didn’t…"
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…"