‘Most Stuartpuram families have reformed’

Atheist leader and social activist Lavanam says if the culprits of the Chennai Express robbery near Piduguralla in Guntur district turn out to be from Stuartpuram, they have to be from families of non-criminal background in that area.

Lavanam, who visited Stuartpuram in 1974 along with wife Hemalatha, devoted his time to bring about a change in the culture of crime of the Yerukula tribe settlers there.

Referring to reports that the train robbery was suspected to be the handiwork of a gang from Stuartpuram and its vicinity, Mr. Lavanam says all criminals, except a handful of pick-pockets, were reformed and rehabilitated.

“We would visit Stuartpuram in the morning and return home late in the evening. We did not accept anything served to us except water which was directly brought from a nearby well. They knew that we were frequently skipping lunch to spend time with them and offered us food. But we turned it down saying we did not want to partake in the food bought with ill-gotten money. This really pinched them and the change began to appear in women first,” he recalled.

Pointing to the fact that the robbery suspects were below 30 years, he says it is probably the third generation of the set of reformed criminals. “There’s a 40-year-long gap and not much has changed on the socio-economic front. Even if there is a gang from Stuartpuram involved in the robbery, it has to be from the non-criminal families residing there,” he maintains.

Elaborating on how Yerukulas, known as a hard-core criminal community, ruled the roost at Stuartpuram in Guntur district, Seetanagaram in Vijayawada, Kapparallatippa near Bitragunta and a small part of Kavali in Nellore district, he says after reforms most of the men were employed and children sent to schools.

“Many of the third generation youngsters are in decent jobs but they do not like to disclose their background for obvious reasons. In the last 40 years, no major crime involving people of this region, has taken place. Why don’t we look at the brighter side of it?

“Why don’t we talk about the success stories that have emerged from what was once a citadel of hard-core criminals,” he wonders

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 8:06:58 AM |

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