A few hundred metres short of where the Maoists would launch an attack that would propel them as far as the pages of the New York Times, a young adivasi boy, not more than ten years old, stood in the dull afternoon heat, facing perhaps the biggest dilemma of his life. He knew what lay ahead on the road. He possibly struggled with the burden of what to do about it for a couple of moments before he flagged down a motorcyclist. “All he said was ‘aage kuch hai’,” recounts Om Prakash Singh, a 42-year-old businessman and Congress party worker who was racing ahead of a convoy of party leaders on his motorcycle when he noticed the boy and slowed down to hear him out.
Singh ignored the boy’s words of caution. A few minutes later, he heard an explosion ring through Darbha Ghat. While Singh had safely crossed the bend where 30 kg of ammonium nitrate laid buried, the convoy of about 25 cars had not. An explosion heaved the road. What followed was a bloodbath its survivors are not likely to forget.