Karunanidhi writes to Union Minister about the poor living conditions of the community

DMK president M. Karunanidhi has requested Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj V. Kishore Chandra Deo to include Narikuravas in the list of Scheduled Tribes.

On Monday, Mr. Karunanidhi sent a letter to the Minister making a strong case for including them in the list of STs, pointing out that the living condition of these people was quite pathetic and they were socially and educationally far behind all communities. At present, the community has been listed under the Most Backward Classes (MBCs) category.

Tamil Nadu Tribals Association president P. Shanmugam said though the Ministry had agreed in principle that they were STs, it was not ready to make a formal announcement. “We received a letter six months ago from the Ministry saying that it has accepted our demand for ST status to Narikuravas. But they do not want to include a single community now, as there are similar demands from other States. So the wait continues,” he said.

In the 1980s, when M.G. Ramachandran was Chief Minister, a proposal had been sent to the Union government for getting ST status for the community by the Tribal Research Centre (TRC).

Today, 25,000 Narikuravas were living in the state, eking out a living by selling rosary beads, safety pins and plastic vessels.

“They are no longer pursuing their traditional profession of hunting and catching animals and birds. Some of them are into the trade of traditional medicine,” said Mr. Shanmugam.

During the DMK regime, houses were built exclusively for the Narikuravas. Again, in 2008, the DMK government formed a welfare board and distributed various forms of financial assistance.

Mr. Shanmugam said official apathy was one of the reasons behind the delay in securing ST status for Narikuravas and other communities such as Kurumans, Kuravars and Malayalis in Erode.

“Malayalis (a tribe, not to be confused with Malayalam-speaking people) in other districts have found a place in the ST list. But those who are living in Erode were left out after a new district was created,” he explained.

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