Thanks to my father’s job, I have spent significant amount of my growing years in remote areas of UP, MP and Bihar. It not only made me aware about the rich poor divide but also made me aware about the troubling realities of India i.e. Naxalism at the ground level. So when I read about the excerpt about the book “Hello Bastar”, I was more than interested to catch hold of it. And finally when I received a free signed copy from the author “Rahul Pandita” I had never anticipated that I would get to know so much about this movement in such a fine detail.
About the book:
The book is written in very lucid manner.From page one the way one can see the great pains author has taken to come up with this book.And why not ?The author has spent 10 years of his life with these people and finally come out with a book. Most Indians are aware about the Government’s version of Naxalism but Rahul has very well enlightened us with the other side of the story and yes the “Untold side of it”
Rahul tells how the naxal movement started in India & various reasons why it has gained momentum in past decades and today is a threat to existing government setup.
He describes in detail the misdoings and neglect by government which created a void and hence lead naxalism to flourish and gain sympathy of poor, especially the tribals and adivasis who are the worst victim of government apathy.
Prior reading the book its quite obvious for any common Indian to have sympathy with government forces fighting naxals, but once you read the book you will be forced to change your views.It highlights how the government hasn’t tried to touch base with the real cause ,the ordeals they had to go through,the political exploitation they were meted to whenever they resumed to talks.Instead government has been trying to suppress them by force.The book tells about the guerilla warfare,their goals,recruitment,party structure,history of movement and their plans for future.The book entails details about Anuradha Gandy’s struggle from the eyes of his husband Kobad Gandy who is facing trial in jail.
Some excerpts from the book:
“Feudalism is one big factor that contributed to the rise of naxalism since the beginning”.
“The Maoists say that most of their money comes from the taxes or levies they collect from various government agencies or businessmen who work in their area of influence.”
“Only when one spends time with them does one understand that it is mostly because the uniform offers them a sense of who they are, makes them one large group, gives them some purpose in life.”
“Many say that Inderavalli incident did to the state’s authority in this whole region what Jallianwala Bagh did to the British.”
USP of the book:
The book has been written after extensive research by author which contains even real pictures taken in forests.The book contains those facts which are otherwise not available in anywhere else i.e. first hand stories by the victims.The book tells the agenda and strategies naxals have.The stories of their sufferings may shock you to the core or may bring you to the brink of tears.
Why you should not read this book :
If you are looking for a lovely fiction or a thriller devoid of true reality of existing system in India, then this book is not for you.
Read this book only if you have any interest in this topic else you will dump it after reading few pages only.
About the author:
Rahul Pandita is a senior special correspondent with the Open magazine.He is the co-author of the critically acclaimed book on insurgency : The Absent State.
He has extensively reported from conflict zones ranging from Bastar to Baghdad.
PS: This review is under book review program of Blogadda.I am extremely thankful to Rahul Pandita for providing me a signed copy and Blogadda team for giving me this opportunity to write review about the same.