Moving 2016: Conflict

2015 was the year of migrants. To mark 2016, The Sunday Express tracks 16 people who moved home in 2015, some of them in public glare, some just a footnote in India’s internal migrants story, to begin new lives.

Updated: December 27, 2015 12:21 pm

‘My husband is in the forests… I live here… But I am sure things will work out fine’

Kursenga Motibai alias Radhakka, 40: Adilabad Ex-Naxal back home after 25 years underground, 2 years in jail

Widely believed to be the first woman Maoist from Telangana region, Motibai was 12 when she left home — in Pippaldhari village of Adilabad — in 1988 to join the “movement”. She had attended a meeting by a group of Naxalites in her village and come away impressed “at their passion and zeal to work for the poor”, and their promise to distribute land from the zamindars.

READ | Moving 2016: Hope

READ | Moving 2016: Neighbourhood

READ | Moving 2016: Homeless

READ | Moving 2016: Wars

Motibai, now ‘Radhakka’, rose to prominent ranks in the Maoist hierarchy, spending 25 years underground, before her arrest in 2013. After two years in jail, she was released on December 12, following acquittal in 28 of the 29 charges against her, including murder and firing at police. Trial in one case is on.

She returned at the age of 40 to find her parents dead, and her two younger brothers married with children of their own and living far away from their native village.

(READ FULL TEXT: ‘My husband is in the forests… I live here… But I am sure things will work out fine’)

‘She packed sweets to the brim, saying Chhattisgarh is so far’

CRPF759

CRPF constable, in his late 30s Bastar Originally from Tarn Taran, Amritsar

His full name, age and exact camp posting can’t be revealed as per CRPF request, “given security considerations”. Everything else is an open book. He sits on a bed in his barrack at a CRPF camp amidst all the things he holds dear, though, as he puts it, “When you live the life we do, there is very little that remains precious but your life, and your sense of duty.”

Posted in some of India’s most volatile places since he joined the force in the late 1990s, including Jammu and Kashmir, he was deployed here on December 19. His family “showed no fear — like any soldier’s family”, he says. “All my wife said was that Tarn Taran was far from home. Then she saw me off with some extra sweets for my company. That box is now one of the few things I have with me.”

(READ FULL TEXT: ‘She packed sweets to the brim, saying Chhattisgarh is so far’)

‘My school uniform means everything to me’

Mangal Macche, 17 Titirgaon, Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh: Moved to residential school here to escape Naxal violence

Home is a confusing word for 17-year-old Mangal Macche. His village is called Ambeli, deep in Bijapur’s forests, “kuchh kilometre” from Kutru town, he says. But that is not his home any more, not since 2007, when his father married another woman and Macche was sent off to Gayatri Ashram in Titirgaon in Jagdalpur, over 150 km away, with 16 other children, who were orphaned or whose families were hit by Naxal violence.

Macche’s mother was killed by Naxals when he was just five. “They killed her because my father had joined the Salwa Judum,” he says. A Class IX student and a yoga instructor at Gayatri Ashram, Macche feels “my home is now my school, and my village is just my village”. He has visited his village only twice in the last eight years “for fear that Naxals would harm me”.

Six months ago, he visited Ambeli for barely a week, and even for the short visit, he carried the five things always with him. “There is little else I have,” he says.

(READ FULL TEXT: ‘My school uniform means everything to me’)