A study by the Samajawadi Adhyayana Kendra (Centre for Socialist Studies), Bangalore, in 2005 on the socio-economic problems in the naxal-affected Malnad area says that the feudal system, which gave rise to naxalism elsewhere in the country, is not prevalent in the Malnad region.
The study says that economic disparity, which is also a reason for the birth of naxalism in some parts of the country, is not alarming in Malnad region.
The issue surrounding the Kudremukh National Park – such as forest dwellers' apprehensions that they will be evicted or not allowed to collect forest produce gave scope for naxalism in the region.
A team of 15 persons representing different organisations conducted the study on March 11 and March 12, 2005. The team in three groups visited Kuthugodu, Dyawagodu, Menasina Hadya, Nemmar, Bukkadibail, Mundodi, Kigga, Salavanthi, Kudige, Hulugarubail and Kere Katte areas and met the local people, according to its 44-page report, a copy which is with The Hindu, submitted to the State government in April, 2005.
The team, which included playwright Girish Kasaravalli and G.N. Nagaraj of CPI (M), said there were 2,028 families within the purview of Kudremukh National Park spread in Sringeri, Koppa, Mudigere, Karkala and Belthangady taluks. In that, 1,425 were tribal families.
It noted that skilled labourers in the region who work in arecanut cultivation and processing-related activities got decent wage. Arecanut farmers and tribal people in the region led a cordial life and tribal people had no complaints against farmers. Most tribal people owned land but the Dalits were considered untouchables.
With regard to daily wages, the study found that skilled labourers got decent wages when compared to labourers in other parts of the State. But when compared to the tribal people, the condition of Dalits left a lot to be desired. Socially, they were still untouchables and they lived outside the village limits. And Dalits could not even think of owning property.
Meanwhile, a senior Indian Police Service official who was involved in anti-naxal operations in Malnad region in 2003 has gone on record that a survey by the People's War Group (PWG) in the early 1990s found that while there is no acute poverty in the region, there is a class division in society and the poor are mainly tribal people and those from the Scheduled Castes.
They survey, named `Socoma' (Social Conditions in Malnad), concluded that the PWG could expand its operations in the Western Ghats for “strategic reasons”. They found an “issue” in the Supreme Court judgment directing the authorities to evict encroachers from the Kudremukh National Park area, he said.