Last month, Govind Krishnan, the reporter-at-large for Fountain Ink in Hyderabad called me to ask if I was available for an assignment ‘somewhere’ in Khammam district. My immediate reaction was to ask if it was the IDP (Internally Displaced People) story. He said yes, and for the first time in the recent months I was really excited about working on a story.
I have been reading about the Muria tribals of Chhattisgarh who, caught in the crossfire between the Salwa Judum and the Maoists, migrate to the forests of Andhra Pradesh only to face harassment from the police and forest officials here for quite some time now. Most of these reports, which have appeared in the Telugu press, never exceeded 100-200 words and did not quite tell about the gravity of the situation. And when I happened to read Javed Iqbal’s reportage, was shocked to see that an issue of this scale finds so little space in the mainstream media. I wanted to work on the story, but never got going for some reason or the other.
Govind and I spent about 10 days in Bhadrachalam, making multiple trips to the Muria (or Gottikoya, as they are known in Andhra) settlements deep inside the forests bordering Chhattisgarh. Read the reportage by Govind with some of my photographs here.