I had just read Hello Bastar and once I had finished the book in a day, I wanted to know more. I got the reference to Satnam’s Jangalnama in Hello Bastar only and I decided to read this as well since I had hardly read a thing about the Maoists and what was happening in their area before this.
And so, one month back, I ordered the book from Flipkart and started reading it some two days after it arrived.
The book in the beginning was something very interesting. While Rahul’s book had been very well designed, this was not going to be that way. This was a travelogue, and as I read what went like a diary, I could almost see things as they were happening as Satnam gives quite descriptive a picture right from how he entered the Jungle.
As the book progressed, I found a lot of interesting things, about Guerillas, and more than that, about tribals in the area. This included facts like the tribals there did not drink milk and didn’t even eat eggs, or what they understood, chickens waiting to be hatched, and also details about development done by the guerillas with the tribals’ help inside the forests.
Of course, the book talks about the problems tribals and guerillas face there, especially the harrassment of the tribals by the outside world. I knew that things were bad there, but only after reading the book I was able to understand the scarcity of the very basic necessities of life. You might have heard that common sense is not common, but the book told me that in those places, even common salt was not common.
To tell the truth, even after reading such a well researched and designed book as Hello Bastar, I found Jangalnama interesting, except for a few negatives. One, the book starts getting a bit repetitive towards the end as the things author finds there are more or less the same with a few changes, throughout his journey and hence throughout the book. Two, the original book, the one in Punjabi, was written in 2003 and has things seen in 2002, not in the recent times.
But still, the book gives you a good insight into an unknown land and its unknown people, who we hardly acknowledge as our own. So if you’re interested in the topic, go for the book.