Walking with the Comrades

Report from Maoist Political Base Areas in India’s DK Forest


This is a brilliantly written and subtle journalist’s description of this living revolutionary movement, its activists and their hopes.

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This piece is also available here on Kasama in web format.

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I arrived at the Ma Danteshwari mandir well in time for my appointment (first day, first show). I had my camera, my small coconut and a powdery red tika on my forehead. I wondered if someone was watching me and having a laugh. Within minutes a young boy approached me. He had a cap and a backpack schoolbag. Chipped red nail-polish on his fingernails. No Hindi Outlook, no bananas. “Are you the one who’s going in?” he asked me. No Namashkar Guruji. I didn’t know what to say. He took out a soggy note from his pocket and handed it to me. It said “Outlook nahi mila.” (Couldn’t find Outlook)

“And the bananas?”

“I ate them”, he said, “I got hungry.”

He really was a security threat.

His backpack said Charlie Brown — Not your ordinary blockhead. He said his name was Mangtu. I soon learned that Dandakaranya, the forest I was about to enter, was full of people who had many names and fluid identities. It was like balm to me, that idea. How lovely not to be stuck with yourself, to become someone else for a while.