What Mobilization Means for Russia
The End of Putin’s Bargain With the People
Purulia, located in the eastern part of the Chota Nagpur plateau in West Bengal, is better known as the site of a mysterious arms drop. Early on the morning of December 18, 1995, a posse of men (five Latvians, a Brit, and a Dane) flew over the district in a Soviet-designed military transport aircraft known as a "curl" and dropped cases of weapons attached to parachutes. The cases contained hundreds of assault rifles, rocket launchers, and grenades. The supply was allegedly meant for a violent religious sect known as the Ananda Marga, but the facts remain murky and conspiracy theories, some implicating the government, abound.
In 2009, photographer Subrata Biswas traveled there, finding it a place of charming mundanity rather than mystery. Since then he has documented, in his "Purulia Diary," how the various tribes—Bhumiz, Koda, Munda, Oraon, Santal, and Shabar—pass the days by herding sheep and farming. Children run barefoot through the streets teasing pigeons. And, as Purulia lies in a low-rainfall area, the only thing that he found locals pray falls from the sky is rain.