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The Naxalites

Deep in the virgin jungle of southern Chhattisgarh, Naxalite guerillas live, train and recruit beyond the reach of government forces.

Police and Militia

To improve security in remote parts of the Bastar region, the goverment has sponsored civilian militia as part of Salwa Judum. Known as Special Police Officers, they are free to roam villages armed yet largely unchecked by the state.

The Villagers

The Bastar region is home to a number of indigenous tribes, many of which continue to live in nature as they have for centuries. Since the start of Salwa Judum thousands have been forcibly relocated to government-run camps.

India: Guerillas in the Mountains

To smooth over a nerve-wracking encounter with their village militia, the Naxalite cadres went on a hospitality offensive. An additional four hours' trek into the dense mountain jungle ended at one of their many camps situated on a high plateau where we were welcomed as their "honored guests". Ploughed fields and a vegetable garden were tended by a tribal family living on site, who welcomed our group with a mashed corn drink served in hollow gourds. Their faces bore none of the resignation common to the displaced I had met in the roadside camps.

India: Point of No Return

If our reception by the village militia the previous night was less than warm, the next morning was chilling. Already, Chandan, Arvind and I had been told that while we'd come by choice, there was no guarantee they would arrange a meeting with the guerillas. And either way, leaving was not up to us. So we really fell on the side of prisoners rather than guests, though no one wanted to acknowledge this openly.

India's Killer Buses

New Delhi -- In a dusty alley on the outskirts of this capital city, a group of 30 women stare at the ground in plaintive silence and form a circle around Omwati Kishore, who waits for her husband to return with the cremated remains of their youngest son.

Maoist Group Feeds Off Poverty to Wage War

SOUTH BASTAR, India — Two years ago, Comrade Sunil spent half his day at school and the remainder working the red fields of his ancestral village.

But his life changed one night when he found his home torched and older brother dead outside, allegedly shot by a state-sponsored civilian militia cracking down on Maoist sympathizers.

Rebel Armies Tap Into Popular Grievances in India

South Bastar, India -- Two years ago, Comrade Sunil spent his days studying in a school classroom and toiling in corn and rice fields in his ancestral village. But life abruptly changed one night after he returned to find his home torched and his older brother shot dead by a state-sponsored civilian militia on the pretext that he had been a rebel sympathizer.

India's Maoists Shift to Attacks on Police

NEW DELHI — Faced with setbacks in their former stronghold, India's Maoist insurgents have responded with a new war strategy that favors large-scale attacks on police forces and high-profile-target killings.

The latest in a series of recent strikes came late last month when 19 persons, including the youngest son of former state Chief Minister Babulal Marandi, were gunned down at a village cultural event in eastern Jharkhand state.

Guerilla War in the Shadow of Bollywood

SOUTH BASTAR, India — Two years ago, Comrade Sunil used his given name and spent half the day at school, the remainder working the red fields of his ancestral village.

But his life changed one night when he found his home torched and older brother dead outside, purportedly shot by state-sponsored civilian militia on the pretext of being a Maoist sympathizer.

Warming by a campfire deep in the mountain jungles of southern Chhattisgarh state, the 18-year-old member of the People's Liberation Guerrilla Army vowed to never give up the homemade rifle lying in his lap.

India: Into the Wild

No story on the Naxalite conflict would be complete without meeting the insurgents themselves. From Delhi to Dantewada I'd been alternately told they were: a) champions of the powerless, ready to talk b) scheming profiteers who would take me hostage for ransom if given the chance c) thugs sure to slit my throat.

India: Camping by the Road

Dantewada lies at the axis of three roads. Today each of these roads are lined with government-run refugee camps, home to at least 50,000 villagers -- mostly tribals -- that have been relocated since Salwa Judum began. Far from a sign of state control, the camps exist because authorities have defaulted control of vast swathes of the backcountry where Naxalites roam.

Of the 22 official camps throughout the south Bastar region, Dornapal is by far the largest. Row upon row of mud and sheet metal barracks shelter more than 17,000 people, though there are surely many more.