The Gond community in Adilabad is shell shocked as four of its youngsters, two belong to a bordering village in Maharashtra, stand accused in a case of gold robbery in Asifabad town. This is the first time in the history of this aboriginal tribe in the district that its members got involved in a property crime.

‘No place for crime’

Theft or robbery, lying or cheating and prostitution were unknown phenomena to the simplistic and rather docile Gond and Kolam adivasis here. “There was no place for crime amid our austerity until the advent of modern lifestyle,” observes Dr. Thodsam Chandu, a Gond elder, as he sheds light on the life of tribal people. “Of frugal means, Gonds possess only those things that are of immediate use. Their jewellery is made of silver purchased mostly through the practice of barter,” he adds as he tries to underscore the factors keeping the rate of property offences at nil.

“Yes, it is due to the presence of the aboriginal communities that the rate of property offences in the agency area is quite less. The offences which have come to light have been committed only by non tribal outsiders,” concurs Utnoor Assistant Superintendent of Police, Ambar Kishor Jha.

He says Gonds are mostly involved in petty civil disputes. “They usually come complaining to us after a quarrel,” he explains. Civil disputes, mostly relating to violation of land borders, have always been an inseparable part of the life of Adivasis. The community had a governing system headed by Mokashis at local level to deal with such complaints notwithstanding the area being ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad.

The advent of naxalites in the district saw the Gonds participating in famine raids, an offence of property as it were. The tribal marauders however, carried away only beedies, soaps and biscuits which tellingly exhibits their inclination towards crime.