Originally dwellers of the forests of Nagarahole, the Hakki Pikki tribe now live in a slum in the suburb of Kengeri

Until a few years ago, they were hunters who lived an independent, nomadic life. Today, they live along a lake located within the Kengeri Satellite Town in temporary houses waiting to move into permanent homes that have been promised to them.

About 129 families belonging to the Hakki Pikki tribe, who were originally inhabitants of the forests of Nagarahole, are now residents of a slum in this distant suburb of the city, sharing space with around 30 families from other communities.

As long as a year-and-a-half ago the community protested formally, demanding permanent homes from the then-Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. Today, they continue to live in temporary shelters, protected from the rain by polythene sheets.

Being included

Having endured relocation and demolition of their dwellings and life on the footpath for several months, Hakki Pikki families hope that things may be looking up for them.

“When we settled down here, we constantly feared that we would be evicted. We had neither water nor electricity. Today, we have water and the Government has promised permanent houses,” said Vasantha Lokesh, who belongs to the tribe.

Eight blocks are being built along the lake for this purpose.

A new vocation

The community now has a new vocation, having turned to handicrafts to make a living. Toys and showpieces are crafted at their homes and then sold throughout southern India.

The items are usually made of fur, gum, waste material, plastic and cloth. The raw material is obtained from Srirampura and Ramanagaram.

“We usually make the items and the men go into the city to sell it. This Christmas, we made a lot of Christmas items like santa caps, miniature christmas trees, mistletoes and many others items. We also sell our handicraft items during major religious fairs that happen in southern India, usually at temples,” said Roopa Mayura, one of the members who makes these items. These handicrafts earn a family around Rs. 1,000 a week.

Free schooling

Children belonging to the Hakki Pikki tribe finally have access to free schooling, and a new library is due to be set up exclusively for their use. The library will stock both Kannada and English newspapers.

“I am really hopeful that our condition will improve. We now have drinking water, a hospital nearby, and our children are being educated, ” said Nagesh Mayura.

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