A new novel set against the backdrop of the Naxalite movement that had its genesis in an obscure village of West Bengal provides a direct window to the real life experiences of the people who willingly or unwillingly became a part of the campaign.
Amar Mudi's Prisoners of Revolution: A Political Novel recounts the tempestuous movement that unravelled through six momentous years from 1967 to 1973 in a place called Babulpur, a microcosmic representation of thousands of other villages in Bengal.
The Adivasis of Babulpur had fought a long and hard battle to earn their place in the mainland after migrating from the forest and hills of Badam Pahar, after many lives were sacrificed to hunger and disease.
On May 25, 1967, in the Naxalbari district of Bengal, nine men, women, and children died in police firing, while trying to take possession of the surplus land of a big landlord.
Soon, thousands of peasants, workers, and common men rallied in support of the uprising. Teachers and students from colleges and universities responded to the call of the newly-formed CPI (ML). They left the comfort of their homes and spread out to small villages and towns throughout the state to mobilise people for direct action against oppression and exploitation.
The state responded to the call for armed rebellion with force. This resulted in killings and counter killings.
Fifty years hence, Adivasis have become the mainstay of this armed resistance - in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh.
Published by Niyogi Books under its Olive Turtle imprint, the novel takes the readers through the individual journeys of each of the characters as the author comments on the futility of a structured government in resolving the problems and sufferings of the marginalised and the oppressed in society.
The novel ends with a mixed mood of both hope and despair. On the one hand, the reader looks forward in the hope of a better future, away from the place of oppression and political disturbance. On the other hand, there is a lingering feeling of loss: of peace, of a chance for a healthy environment where the old can witness their future generations grow.
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