You're Not in Afghanistan Anymore: War zones can take their toll on the outlook of civilians caught in the conflict. Staff writer Mark Sappenfield was only in Chhattisgarh, India, for 10 days, yet he struggled with the dark mental climate there. In India, fighting between Maoist insurgents and Indian security forces has gone on for three decades (see story). He found Chhattisgarh more depressing than Afghanistan.
"In Afghanistan, there remains a fierce pride and strength of will, " says Mark. "Perhaps these qualities cause their fair share of trouble, but they also produce an iron defiance in the face of the most terrible atrocities – an unyielding resolution to be unbowed."
"In the jungles of Dantewada district I saw a people utterly broken. Whereas Afghans looked you directly in the eye, chin resolute, the people at the refugee camp had all but conceded, slump-shouldered and speaking softly, staring at nothing."
Mark was told by many people there that the aboriginal people of this part of rural India, often called tribals, are "a simple people" easily led.
"That is a broad statement," he admits."But it did seem clear that these people felt forsaken by their leaders – by the Naxalites who were using them for their own ends, and by authorities who only wanted to herd them into camps. It struck me as a sad lesson on how a gentle people can be broken by those who rule over them."
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