Brinda Karat visits interior tribal hamlet

Nestled on the hill slopes, with a stream flowing a few yards away, Madagada is a hamlet typical of the ‘Konda Kummari’ tribe.

A group of men were seen in the open spaces outside their homes, engrossed in their work. While one of them turned the wheel and ran his nimble fingers on the clay to turn it into pots, the others were seen giving finishing touches.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau Member Brinda Karat walked down the kutcha road, leading to the interior tribal hamlet, to interact with the villagers.

Though the tribals did not know English, they seemed to understand her concern for them as she freely mingled with them.

CPI(M) State secretariat member Ch. Narasinga Rao translated for her.

The villagers, however, needed another local leader to re-translate into the local dialect, which was a mixture of Telugu and Odiya.

The tribals place a bamboo pole on their shoulder and hang sacks of clay at their ends. They walk with the load across hills and streams to their hamlet. They showed their bruised shoulders to the CPI(M) team.

“We carry the clay from Bosebeda Gedda, about 2 km. away. We turn out four or more pots a day depending on the size.

The big pots fetch around Rs.30 each at the weekly shandy,” they said.

“The Konda Kummaris have been living on the hill slopes for generations, making pots for use by other tribal communities. They observe tribal customs and practices in births and deaths, weddings and also depend on podu cultivation and collection of forest produce for their livelihood.

“Anyone who can see and has minimum understanding will agree that they are tribals. The deprivation of their rights by not including them in the ST list speaks volumes of the injustice being done to them during the last three decades by the government and the officials concerned,” Ms. Brinda Karat said.

“In fact, they had been recognised as STs and were enjoying the rights given to them by the Constitution till about four decades ago when they were placed in the BC list after a wrong report was sent to the government,” says CPI(M) Paderu Division secretary M. Suryanarayana.