Pressing for a separate welfare board for nomads, reservation and various other benefits, members of The Tamil Nadu Tribal Nomads Federation laid a siege to the Madurai Collectorate during their rath yatra on Thursday.
The campaign, which started at Ramanathapuram on Monday, reached Madurai on Thursday. Members of the federation entered the Collectorate and intercepted the Collector’s vehicle. There was ruckus on the campus when a few policemen tried to forcibly remove the old women.
However, Collector Anshul Mishra patiently listened to the grievances of the representatives of the different nomadic and semi-nomadic tribesmen who came in their traditional attire, representing their occupation. Mr. Mishra, after collecting the petition, assured that their demands would be forwarded immediately to the State government.
The other demands of the nomadic tribes include provision of community certificates and five per cent reservation in education and employment. They also demanded that the State, keeping in mind the itinerant status of the tribesmen, should issue mobile voter identity and mobile ration cards.
The other demands were to conduct a survey and create a categorical status of Nomadic Tribe (NT) in government records.
R. Maheswari, secretary, The Empowerment Centre of Nomads and Tribes, Madurai, said that the condition of nomads was worse than that of any other marginalised section and demanded that amendments should be brought in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, to include nomads.
In fact, it was in Madurai that they had the first conference of Tamil Nadu Nomads Federation in 2010. It epitomised how a group of tribesmen were long neglected not only by the State but also by the civil society as the speakers then stated that it was a conference organised by “us” as neither the civil societal institution nor the State “came to help us reclaim our rights.”