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Whither Revolutions?

Dipavali Sen

By Nilima Sinha
Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 243, Rs. 350.00


This book belongs to the genre of Hajar Churashir Maa by Mahashweta Devi and Uttaradhikar-Kalabela-Kalapurush—trilogy by Samaresh Majumdar, treating the difficult theme of the Naxalite movement. But while those relate to the movement among educated and urban youth (sparked off in 1967 at the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal), Nilima Sinha’s novel refers to the more recent insurgence in Jharkhand as seen by a local girl.   Even in her earlier work, this acclaimed writer, active in developing children’s literature through the Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children (A.W.I.C.), has addressed socio-economic issues. In S.O.S. from Munia, for example, she has portrayed with realism how the lives of underprivileged children get affected by illegal operations. In The Mystery of The Falling Mountains she protested against environmental degradation by the greedy. She has set more than one plot in the forest and around kidnapping operations. Red Blooms in the Forest can thus be regarded as a culmination of Nilima Sinha’s long crusade against socio-economic anomalies through children’s books.   Not since Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhya’s Aranyak have the forests of India been described so lovingly and woven into the very fabric of the novel. They reveal the author’s familiarity with the terrain, born of associations mentioned in the back cover. The cover design by Shashi Bhushan Prasad is perfectly in tune with the title (perhaps intentionally, echoing that of Red Star Over China, Edgar Snow’s classic account of the Communist Party of China, in the 1960s just a guerilla unit).   In Red Blooms in the Forest, Champa, a teenager from a Jharkhand village gets drawn into the circle of Naxalites or Maovadis, ‘jungle folk’ to the villagers.   Champa is forced at gun-point to cook for hungry Naxalites and calling this an act of sheltering them, the police pick her father up. When her visit to the muffasil police station puts Champa in more difficulties, she goes into the jungle and ties up with Vijay, one of the Naxalites. He takes her to Commander Bhaskar, a disillusioned physics teacher from Andhra Pradesh, now building up a militant group in this jungle of Jharkhand. Champa joins the group and the book provides authentic details of camp life in Naxalite hideouts which include reading of Marxist and Maoist literature as well as digging forest-floor toilets. It describes the shifting of whole camps at sudden ...

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