Mustafa Quraishi is a noted Indian photojournalist and his images have been published widely around the world. After being assigned to Hyderabad, he started documenting the Indian Maoist insurgency by travelling frequently into the hinterland. In doing so he delved into the other side of India: not the gleaming glass blocks of multinationals and the call centres of 'Cyberabad', but the tribal areas where state neglect has fed a violent uprising.
Quraishi's photographs will go on display for a month on 17 March, alongside an exhibition of images from Nepal's own Maoist war at the Shanti Sangralaya in Patan Dhoka. The pictures depict the reality of everyday life for Naxalite guerrillas: women fighters lay down their guns to cook, read, hold babies; guerrillas stand on patrol as villagers look on; a police officer in the city exhibits criminals posing as Maoists wearing black hoods to the media. For Nepalis, these pictures are particularly striking because they could have been taken during our own 1996-2006 insurgency. Andhra Pradesh could very well be Dang.
India's Maoist conflict has been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the country's "biggest internal security threat". Spread over 200 districts in 20 of India's 28 states, covering 40 per cent of the country's area, the Maoists now control 92,000 sq km of territory, mostly forests. About 10,000 people have been killed in the last 30 years of low-intensity conflict.
"This is a social movement that has acquired terror ramifications and the only way to deal with it is to understand the socio-economic roots, which is what I have tried to portray in my work," says Quraishi, who was in Kathmandu for the launch of his exhibition.
Lives and Faces
Images of the Indian Maoist War by Mustafa Quraishi
17 March – 17 April, 2011
Shanti Sangralaya, Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya
11am- 4pm, except Tuesdays
PICS: MUSTAFA QURAISHI