I got a call around midnight in the Delhi summer. It was Lingaram, the young Muria adivasi from Sameli village in Dantewada, then studying in Noida’s International Media Institute of India. Linga’s misfortunes never seem to end: first he was accused of helping the Maoists, then tortured in the police station toilet, forced to be a special police officer, then released thanks to a habeas corpus petition.
In a few months, he would be dealing with encounter killings in his village that left three dead, to only add to the targeting of his family members by the Chhattisgarh police, and then to be accused in a press conference by Senior Superintendent of Police Kalluri of being slain Maoist leader Azad’s successor and a mastermind of an attack on a Congress leader.
‘Javed bhai,’ He asked me that night in Delhi, ‘do you know where I can get a Che Guevara T-shirt?’
‘Linga, you wear that T-shirt in Dantewada, you’d be the first man in jail.’
Lingaram chuckled uncontrollably.