Kerala

Eravala community on the warpath

KIRTADS’ report is the catalyst for the indefinite strike by the Mahasabha

A study report prepared by the Kerala Institute for Research, Training and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS) which seeks to deny tribal status to the backward Eravala community, which occupies the Kollangode and Elavanchery regions of Palakkad district, has evoked angry response from both community members and various tribal organisations.

Experts from KIRTADS arrived at Kollangode on Tuesday in response to an indefinite strike that began a fortnight ago in front of the local village office under the banner of the Pattika Varga Mahasabha.

The officials held preliminary talks with the agitating Eravalas, but the Mahasabha is now demanding arrival of anthropologists to conduct a study and collect documents from the Thottam, Maruthi, Puthanpadam, Mathur, Chathambara, Kodukupara, Vengapara and Kalleripotta colonies occupied by the community for generations.

The agitating people are confident that an authentic study can get back their Scheduled Tribe status. It was following the submission of KIRTADS’ report the Revenue Department has stopped issuing community certificate to the Eravala families, resulting in denial of educational concessions and job reservation to young members, apart from not getting various grants and aids meant for the welfare of the community.

According to Mahasabha leader M.C. Velayudhan, a report prepared by the Chittur tahsildar on the socio-economic status of the Eravala families of the Kollangode-Elavanchery region had already recommended an anthropological study involving top experts to decide on the Scheduled Tribe status. Though the authorities have sought a three-month time frame to conduct such a study, the community members went on strike saying any delay would hamper education and job prospects of their children. Also known as Villu Vedans, the Eravalas can be seen only in this region of Chittur taluk and some parts of Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. In the neighbouring State, they enjoying Scheduled Tribe status. They are traditionally hunters who used bows and arrows, and alienation from the forest environments over the years had rendered the community as beggars. Roughly translated, the term Eravala means professional beggars.

“Once our villages were surrounded by forests. But the forest cover was lost over the years and large-scale occupation from outside had made us landless people,’’ says community member S. Marimuthu.

As per the 1991 census, the population of Eravallar is 3,139 in Kerala and 2,525 in Tamil Nadu. In the absence of cultivable land, most of the community members are working as coolies in farmlands.

The families are patriarchal and in all families the father’s authority is supreme.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 10:00:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/eravala-community-on-the-warpath/article22405036.ece

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