Our special coverage of the closest race for years
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26 Oct 2011 15:38 GMT
As India barrels down the track to economic greatness, the majority of its people are being left behind [Al Jazeera]
The Adivasis are thought to be India(***)s earliest inhabitants [Al Jazeera]
A loose collection of tribes, it is estimated that there are about 84 million of these indigenous people, which is about eight per cent of the country(***)s population [Al Jazeera]
For generations, they have lived off farming and the spoils of the jungle in eastern India [Al Jazeera]
But as those on the lowest rung of India(***)s social and economic ladder, the Adivasis have the odds firmly stacked against them [Al Jazeera]
In addition to this, their way of live is under threat as millions of Adivasis have been displaced, partly as a result of conflict between the government and Maoist anti-government groups [Al Jazeera]
But they are also victims of the Indian government(***)s voracious appetite for mineral wealth as their land contains mineral deposits estimated to be worth trillions of dollars [Al Jazeera]
Forests have been cleared and the Indian government has evacuated hundreds of villages to make room for steel plants and mineral refineries [Al Jazeera]
And this is not just a recent development. In 1950, 32 Adivasi villages were demolished to make room for a steel plant in India(***)s Orissa province [Al Jazeera]
The displaced ended up living in settlement camps - for 60 years. They were all promised jobs and prosperity, but say they were given nothing [Al Jazeera]
Binayak Sen has been fighting for the rights of Adivasis for years and has been arrested by the government numerous times [EPA]
He says: "These focused processes of expropriation are forcing these people who are already living on the brink of starvation off the land and into more severe poverty." [Al Jazeera]
Some turn to alcohol in order to numb the pain of the horrendous poverty in which they live [Al Jazeera]
The risk of losing everything they have ever known has made many Adivasis fertile recruits for India(***)s Maoist rebels or Naxalites, who also call these forests home [Al Jazeera]
The Maoists(***) fight with the Indian government began 50 years ago, just after India became independent [Al Jazeera]
In 2007, it was estimated that Naxalites were active across "half of India(***)s 28 states" - accounting for about 40 per cent of India(***)s geographical area [Al Jazeera]
The Maoist ideal of a just society without hierarchy seemed to be the antidote to the Indian government(***)s land grab, so hundreds of disillusioned young Adivasi men and women joined them [Al Jazeera]
But the aboriginals soon discovered that their new allies had a very dark side [EPA]
In their zeal for undermining the Indian government, Maoist fighters have torched construction equipment, bombed government schools, and de-railed passenger trains, killing hundreds [EPA]
"It degenerated into a terrorist campaign. It is an exercise in socialism in words, and terrorism in deeds," says Ashim Chatterjee, one of the original members of the Naxalite movement who has since become one of the Maoists(***) harshest critics [EPA]
India(***)s Maoist uprising and its brutal suppression by the Indian government has claimed more than 10,000 lives since 1980 and displaced millions of Adivasis [Al Jazeera]
In the 40-year-long push and pull between the rebels and the Indian government, the biggest losers in this armed struggle have been India(***)s 84 million aboriginals [Al Jazeera]
New Delhi has labelled the Maoists and their Adivasi collaborators terrorists and started fighting them with government paramilitaries [EPA]
By many accounts, the government paramilitaries have been indiscriminate in their anti-Maoist operations, targetting innocent Adivasis along with the rebels and striking fear into villagers in central and eastern India [EPA]
The Indian government says it is fighting the Maoists in order to protect the Adivasis from their violence and exploitation [Al Jazeera]
There are reports of government paramilitaries allegedly burning down villages suspected of having Maoist sympathies [Al Jazeera]
In some villages many men have been arrested on suspicion of collaborating with the Maoists, leaving the women and children without any income [Al Jazeera]
Squeezed from all sides, India(***)s once-proud aboriginals have probably hit their lowest point [Al Jazeera]
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