New Delhi, Jun 6 (PTI) A new book takes a look at the social consequences of Maoist insurgency with a special focus on Dandakaranya in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region.
In 'The Death Script: Dreams and Delusions in Naxal Country', journalist Ashutosh Bhardwaj writes of his time in that region, of the various men and women he meets from both sides of the conflict, bringing home with astonishing power the human cost of such a battle.
'In Bastar, I witnessed death closely for the first time in my life. The experience was overpowering, unsettling, as well as humbling. I met many people in the jungle who challenged my beliefs and perceptions. Their dreams and sorrows introduced me to a world I had not known about,' he says of his book.
'Now in its sixth decade, the Maoist insurgency is one of the biggest challenges before Indian democracy. A vastly uninformed and misinformed discourse has ensured that it has not received the critical and public attention it deserves,' the author says.
'And Dandakaranya is possibly the biggest graveyard of independent India... But the residents of this forest of mahua are often able to overcome the gathering darkness. This book yearns to record their seemingly quotidian yet epic life,' he says.
The book's earliest drafts were written as personal notes in Bhardwaj's diaries.
'At some point I also conceived of it as a novel. Eventually, it took the form that it has now - a narrative in multiple voices and styles,' he says.
The book, published by HarperCollins India under its Fourth Estate imprint, is releasing this month.
Rahul Soni, executive editor at HarperCollins India, says Bhardwaj unearthed tales that might otherwise have remained untold.
Narrated in multiple voices, the book is a creative biography of Dandakaranya that combines the rigour of journalism, the intimacy of a diary, the musings of a travelogue, and the craft of a novel, the publishers said.
Through the prism of Maoist insurgency, the book also looks at larger questions of violence and betrayal, and love and obsession. PTI ZMN RB RB