The silent whimper of advasistext_fields
It was when the tribal youth called Madhu of Attappadi Kadukumanna tribal hamlet, was killed by a mob that Malayalam poet KGS wrote the lines, "Oh, you who made forest your home/Killing is not murder/Like killing deer, hare or a bird/ it's a soft hunting". The unending destitution of the tribals in our country was brought out in the poet's emotionally charged diction with all its horror in those lines. It has become clear by this time that in the state of Kerala, which boasts of its unique 'developmemnt model' in the spheres of health and education sector, the tribal community has not been able to reap its fruits, a fact that has been vouched for by various studies so far. To take just one example of the health index, as per the national infant mortality figures in India, the estimated infant mortatily rate is 27 - meaning 27 babies out of 1000 births die before the age of one. In Kerala it is only six, the same rate as in America! However, while in the tribal area of Attappadi, 50 infants died in the last five years, that is close to the national average. This difference is found in maternal deaths also. The discrimination and inefficiency in health sector can be cited as reasons for this. In other words, the truth is not that tribals have been turning their back to the 'Kerala model, but rather they were driven away from every sphere of life. This shows the value our rulers attach to the lives of adivasis. As in the poet's lines, it has come to such a pass that any one can run over those outcasts as done on meek animals. It is a continuation of this that the tribals living in Wayanad and going to the border areas of neighbouring Karnataka, have gone missing. In a matter of a few months, four youths have died in this manner. And their relatives are alleging some mystery in these deaths too - mystery of the kind that shrouds the case of Thottil Binish, who was found dead in a pond in Birunani in Karnataka last week. The hospital authorities are reported to have refused even to show the dead body to his brother when he went there on hearing about the death. Relatives also say there were big wounds in the body. When they mentioned this to the police, the reply they got was that it was due to leech bite. The mystery gets all the more intriguing when it transpires that the pond into which he fell was a mere one foot deep; further, the man who escorted Bineesh has gone missing.
This is not anything new in Wayanad. In 2008, an investigation conducted by an organisation called Neethi Vedi discovered that 122 people had died in this manner. There are also those who suspect the role of organ mafia behind this. There are also instances of adivasi women who came for work in ginger farms of Kodagu, being subjected to sexual abuse. Despite all this, authorities have not taken any steps in the matter with vigilance. When the death of Bineesh was raised as a complaint, the district administration and police are said to have shown reluctance even to receive the complaint. It is not merely the life and health of the tribals that are snatched away with the connivance of the administration. The tiny plots they earned through decades of struggle are also being taken away from them. It is in the same Attappadi and Agali, both of which are the pangs of Kerala's 'health model', that the mafia operates to extort the land of tribals. It was when the news of the land in the possession of the family of Nanjiyamma, singer and national film award winner, that more details of the land mafia camping in the tribal areas emerged. It is not Nanjiyamma alone, but over 400 adivasi families in Attappadi and Nilambur have lost their land. The matter did reach even the state assembly, and media reports in this regard were proven to be correct. Still, land encroachment is continuing. It is to be presumed that this enjoys the tacit support of the administration. On the other hand, the government is wielding the big stick of power against those who protest at this injustice. And police has filed a case following of a report against a journalist in Madhyamam who uncovered the issue of tribal land including that of Nanjiyamma. What emerges clear from this is with whom and for whom the government stands. But there is nothing surprising about it. The ruling establishment has never acted differently. But that does not mean that we can keep away from the issues just in the light of a case charged. There can never be a compromise with the cruel pastime of mafia who usurp the life, land and health of a community. We will keep raising our voice until this mafia is reined in.