An unceasing spool of horrors is playing out in some of the most pristine, lush forests of India. The country’s green zones—the band of thick tropical forest that runs from Andhra Pradesh to West Bengal—are also some of its most bloodied grounds: a theatre of war between the Maoists and various special security units with foreboding names like Cobra, Jaguar, Greyhounds, and that of other beasts of prey. In this fight for “liberated zones” and “area domination”, it is the tribal that gets trampled. They live in fear of both their “protectors” and their “liberators”. Thousands of Muria tribals from Chhattisgarh’s Sukma region live in Andhra’s Khammam district because the police, Maoists, and the now illegal Salwa Judum forced them out. Hundreds of them have been “bound-over”; they have to report to the police once a week, often making long treks from places without any transport, writes Govind Krishnan V in our cover story “Caught in a bind”. These binding orders are illegal, and the government denies ever issuing them despite dozens of testimonies to the contrary.
Do read the story “A moralising compass” on the problems faced by single women who want an abortion—a legal right that seems hostage to the moral gaze of doctors and caregivers. Three thousand to 6,000 people, depending on the source selected, die every year in train accidents in Mumbai. It is a death so commonplace—and so avoidable—that it has been reduced to just a number in official files and accepted as a part of the deal of suburban train travel in the city. Alia Allana profiles “Case No. 288,” a number from the file of the dead.
On a different note, Fountain Ink turns two this month. It has been a rewarding run because of you, the reader. You have continued to discover the magazine, hidden as it is in newsstands across the country. You have sought us out, have called, e-mailed, sent postcards too, to know more about us. You have bought back issues, sold at a slight premium, in numbers that continue to overwhelm us. In fact, some issues have been so popular that we have just enough left to keep for the records. This vote of confidence in long-form journalism, and our work, is the best reassurance I can get as the editor.
In the third year, you will see a revamp of our digital platforms, some tweaks in the print version, and overall a wider scope of national and international coverage. Watch this for space for more on this in the coming months.
Saurav Kumar, Editor