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Watch: Nandini Sundar talks about the unique nature of violence in Bastar


The most disturbing aspect of the conflict in Bastar is perhaps the pace at which violence has engulfed the region. Before 2005, very few people had heard of Bastar. The nondescript region, with its thick forests, lakes and waterfalls, had several tourist spots, interstate highways, functional schools and hospitals that once thrived but have now all been destroyed.

But over the last 11 years, more than 2,500 people have died and thousands more have been injured and displaced in the violence around Naxal movement. After a period of relative calm, the region is again witnessing pre-2011 levels of violence again.

Bastar has repeatedly made it to the frontpages of newspapers for large-scale bloodshed and displacement of people during 2005 Salwa Judum movement, during 2009 operation Green Hunt, 2007 Dantewada and 2013 Darbha Valley massacres.

Also read - Bastar: Another allegation of fake encounter

Those who've worked with the victims, and have closely observed the conflict in Bastar will also tell you about Gompad, Sarkeguda, Tadmetla, Singaram, Lingagiri, Gacchanpalli and several other areas that witnessed horrific atrocities against local adivasis.

Nandini Sundar is one of them.

Sundar is among the first 'outsiders' to have worked, reported and written about Bastar - long before the first CRPF truck drove in the jungles. Which is the reason why the anthropologist's second book on Bastar - The Burning Forest: India's War In Bastar (the first being Subalterns and Sovereigns published in '97) - deals with the complexity of the conflict more comprehensively.

In this interview with Catch, Sundar talks about the unique nature of Bastar conflict, about why violence in other states, where Naxals once claimed strong foothold, has waned while increasing in Bastar. She also talks about the state's role in the region, how her personal life has been affected by her work, and about the book itself.

More in Catch - Centre raises new Bastar Battalion to fight Naxals. Is it a bad idea?

Born to be killed: how Bastar's Gompad village turned into hell for its Adivasis

Suhas Munshi @suhasmunshi

He hasn't been to journalism school, as evident by his refusal to end articles with 'ENDS' or 'EOM'. Principal correspondent at Catch, Suhas studied engineering and wrote code for a living before moving to writing mystery-shrouded-pall-of-gloom crime stories. On being accepted as an intern at Livemint in 2010, he etched PRESS onto his scooter. Some more bylines followed in Hindustan Times, Times of India and Mail Today.