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India’s Hidden War

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A woman dumps rubble into a crusher at a mine in India's Jharkhand state. Jharkhand has an estimated 2,500 off-the-books mining operations, an underground industry that has both built sympathy for the state's Maoist rebels and provided a source of income for their rebellion.

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A coal miner in Jharkhand. Black lung and other respiratory diseases are common among Indian miners, and their bodies are usually worn out after 10 to 15 years -- but mining is one of the more lucrative jobs available. 

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Workers inside one of Jharkhand's illegal coal mines. Minerals in open-pit mines are excavated by the ton with heavy equipment, but underground they are often extracted painstakingly with pickaxes.

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Ram Bhuwan Kushwaha, center, a leader and warlord of Salwa Judum, the most notorious civilian defense militia in Chhattisgarh state, poses with his armed guards. Although they are as rapacious as the Maoists they are battling in India's troubled coal-mining region, the militias enjoy the support of the national and local governments in their fight.

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The Bailadila mine in Chhattisgarh, the richest iron mine in India. The complex was sacked in 2006 by Maoist rebels who stole 20 tons of explosives, which have fueled their violent regional insurgency for the past four years.

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Rajuria, a special officer in the Salwa Judum militia, shows off his AK-47. Rajuria joined the militia to seek revenge on the Maoist rebels who killed his brother in cold blood.

  • For more on India's Maoist rebellion, read "Fire in the Hole," a reported essay by Jason Miklian and Scott Carney.

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