Let us start with what Scholar Vani Xa Xa told the writer about her study on Bastar and the bitter experiences with the police – ʹBastar has become a liberated zone in more than one way– liberated from the protecting the Constitutionʹ. Yes. Xa Xa was right. It is clear that the Indian security forces lack the feeling of responsibility, professional ethics and morality to abide to it in the past four decades of the revolutionary movement in Bastar. But they need to maintain illusions among the Indian people, especially among those who know that there is a written Constitution, that whatever they do is according to it.
Nandini Sundar brought out illustratively how the Indian Constitution is not being implemented in Bastar. Those who believe in the Indian Constitution must read the book ʹThe Burning Forest – Indiaʹs War in Bastarʹ to know the lives of indigenous people who are called ʹthe poorest of the poorʹ by the ʹcivil societyʹ. They shall know that in the struggle for their survival and for the sake of the country they are making selfless sacrifices. They can also know that they are facing violence and atrocities, murders, house burnings and other such things. One must also read this book to know the revolutionary path of Naxalbari, the efforts of the Janathana Sarkars that are the new institutions of peopleʹs power and the ruthless class struggle. The writer believes in the sandwich theory but brought forth the problem of the people in a sincere manner. The origin of those problems is revealing in the name she chose for the book, ʹIndiaʹs War in Bastarʹ.
Her ideology guided the book. On one hand she exposed the excesses of the police and on the other she mentions the violent actions of the Maoists. This might satisfy those who believe in the sandwich theory. Since this is not the main issue in this I shall not speak anything about it.
The author clearly explained the brutal experiences of the Bastar people in salwa judum and Green Hunt. She exposed the real character of the democratic governments and the veils of the security forces by writing about the atrocities committed on women that no civilized society can accept. But we see that she did not mention the efforts of the revolutionary movement consciously in many instances. For example she did not write anything about the role of the Party in calling the people back from the camps. She knows the efforts of the Party in providing help and cooperation in protecting the properties of the people and in settling them in the villages but she did not write about it.
It can be recalled that the Party responded to the appeals of Manish Kunjam who was repeatedly mentioned in the book, Gandhian Himanshu Kumar and many other well-wishers of the people and did its bit to make the people return to the villages. She definitely knows this information. Alex Paulʹs ʹkidnapʹ is one more example in which the Party first proposed Manish Kunjam as the intermediary. He absolutely opposed it. But when the government sent medicines for the Collector he immediately responded. The author consciously did not mention that the Party proposed him.
The author met the people and personally knew their plight but she could understand only the phenomenon. She could not know what actually happened in the massacre of four villages including Thadimetla by the police. Thus the role of the Party and the revolutionary movement was negated which only those who have in depth knowledge with the Bastar movement can understand.
The author had a chance to check up what the persons who left the movement told her from leaders like Uyike whom she met in 2012 or through intermediaries which would have avoided mistakes.
Nandini Sundar is in touch with Bastar for the past nearly three decades. She wrote a lot about the peopleʹs lives in Bastar and their struggles. They are the evidences to say how much she loves the people of Bastar. She understood that the Indian state is making war on the people of Bastar. So she put the Indian state opposite the Constitution. She faced the risks from the state with a belief in the Constitution. But finally the judge was successful in showing that her beliefs are nothing but illusions. One can understand from her book that judges and police officers proved that in a class society justice is not irrespective of class. The author definitely understands this but her conclusive words show that she believes in something else. ʹI still occasionally pray at the grave of the judge but with much hollower hope than beforeʹ.
A natural life of the tribals with their natural culture is possible only in the Janathana Sarkars. If the author wishes education in tribal mother tongue, the freedom to learn other languages, facilities for students, highlighting peopleʹs traditions she has to come closer to the revolutionary movement. She has to become a citizen of Bastar. British Elvin became an adivasi to write a book on them. So it must not be impossible for Nandini Sundar. Only then her dream can come true. Let us fight united for a natural life of the tribals and make true their dreams for the same.
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