Andhra Pradesh

Police outreach to win tribals’ hearts

A tribal family engaged in making cane mats at Maddigudem in East Godavari district.

A tribal family engaged in making cane mats at Maddigudem in East Godavari district.

The long chain of armed police force posted on either side of the forest road over 100 km ends at the Primary Health Centre at Yedugurallapalle village of Chintoor mandal, located about 200 km north from the district headquarters on Wednesday.

In a makeshift tent on the sprawling premises of the PHC, more than 500 pregnant and neo-natal mothers brought in from the nearby 35 tribal hamlets were listening intently to the doctors who were briefing them on the care to be taken by them. An equal number of policemen were deployed on security duties outside.

At Maddigudem hamlet, 3 km from Yedugurallapalle, Sodi Ganesh alias Abraham was making cane mats with the help of his family members. While the family remained tight-lipped, Abraham spoke in broken Telugu about the hardship involving in his livelihood. “They are migrants,” said Savalam Ramu, an immediate neighbour, looking desolately at the newly built thatched house.

Of late, the native tribal people from Chintoor, Etapaka, Kunavaram and Vara Ramachandrapuram — the mandals merged into East Godavari from Khammam in Telangana following the bifurcation — are not willing to welcome the migrants.

Many villages of these four mandals are at a stone’s throw from the border with Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha and most of the migrant tribals are of the ‘Guthi Koya’ sect and eke out a living by undertaking ‘Podu’ cultivation.

“They are occupying the vacant lands here and wasting them every year,” added Ramu, a native farmer. The villagers are bringing pressure on the migrants through the village heads and sarpanches and preventing them from getting ‘Aadhaar’ and the benefits doled out by the government. However, there seemed to be no drop in the migrations.

At the medical camp, the entire police force stood in rapt attention when the speeding car carrying Vishal Gunni, SP, came to a screeching halt. With a couple of encounters between the police and the Maoists taking place near Yedugurallapalle and the police unearthing a few landmines in the vicinity in the last three years, the police were extra cautious.

Even as no complaints were reported, the police also knew about the ongoing extortions from contractors and big farmers in the name of the Maoist Party.

“Consider us as your well-wishers and bring your problems to our notice. We are arranging you free ambulance and auto-rickshaw facilities, which you can use to opt for institutional delivery,” Mr. Vishal told them. But most of the migrants could not understand his words as they were not fluent in the local language. The police knew very well that the ‘Guthi Koyas’ are staunch sympathisers of the Maoists and never mind to offer them shelter. Continuous efforts were being made to protect the agency from becoming a shelter zone for the extremists, which is in addition to multiplying the number of police stations and manpower in the Agency.

“This camp is a part of community policing and our aim is to make the tribal people free from all fears. If we become closer to them, they need not fear about any others,” Mr. Vishal told the media, without elaborating who the “others” were.

He also spoke about improving road and communications connectivity into the hamlets on the borders.


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Printable version | May 14, 2022 10:55:30 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/police-outreach-to-win-tribals-hearts/article22683498.ece