Arts & Culture

Book Review- The Burning Forest: India’s war in Bastar

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“The first casualty when a war comes, is truth”, this quote stares straight at times when people sit to discuss wars. History has been the best witness of how often truth has been molded by victors of wars. Across all the wars, it is the common people who bear the brunt of the conflicts.

This book, written by Nandini Sundar- an award winning sociologist at Delhi School of Economics is a firsthand account of facts, stories and happenings that shaped the war between the Indian State and the Maoists. The book largely deals with the lost lives, casualties and stories of large scale violence that was thrust upon the tribal villages in the name of anti-insurgency operations by the Indian State. Starting from her earlier days when she spent time in the area as a PhD student to her field visits and numerous other times spent in Bastar, the author collects shades from the time to tell the reader the tale of how things were, and how they have been made into what they are now.

She tries to bring to light the marginalized stories about large scale human rights violations, mass molestations and almost everything that has been obscured by the dominant narratives and state control. The book makes the reader express the same words that Supreme Court judgement also featured, ‘Its Horror! It’s Horror!’

If you believe that everything is in black and white in the anti-insurgency operations conducted by the security forces in the jungles, this book is a must read for you. The book throws light on one of the worst of state supported killings of civilians in the history of India as well the legal battles that were fought for justice.

War is not just about suffering and death, but also about the complex workings of bureaucracies, militaries, political groups and societies that form its scaffolding. This book is a must read for students to widen their horizon and discover that which is often concealed in the gaps and silences of the popularized or state sanctioned narratives.

It is imperative for us to know, ‘the Horror!’ that happened in our own country.

You can buy the book here: The Burning Forests
Srivedant Kar

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Srivedant Kar is the associate editor of DU Beat. A journalism student at Cluster Innovation Centre, he spends more time thinking about tomorrow than today. Having interned with United Nations, he is an avid reader, fierce debater, poet and religious follower of politics who aspires to be a diplomat some day.

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