Nilambur Cholanaikans unbundle woes in front of judge

Malappuram District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) secretary and Sub Judge Noushadali K. visited the primitive Cholanaikan tribespeople living in the deeper areas of the Nilambur forests on Thursday in the wake of the death of a newborn due malnutrition.

The tribespeople living in the hamlets of Kuppumala, Chempukallu, Nagamala, Varganmala, and Mathilmala unbundled their woes in front of the judge. “We have not got any help from them [Integrated Tribal Development Project officials and health officials]. Nobody cared for us,” they told the judge.

Officials of the Legal Services Authority had visited the hamlets on January 7 to study their living conditions. The Sub Judge had alerted the authorities, including the District Collector and the ITDP authorities, about the condition of a pregnant tribal woman named Asha on January 13. He also had sought an action taken report from the ITDP on the matter.

On January 15 morning, Asha started her journey on foot through the jungle as she entered into labour pain. After a day-long walk through the elephant-infested jungle, she spent the night behind a giant rock in the river and resumed her journey on January 16. Asha reached Sayivila, a point inside the jungle where vehicles can reach, in the afternoon, and from where she was taken to the Government District Hospital at Nilambur.

She gave birth to a female baby at 7 p.m. But the baby died as it was being shifted to the Government Medical College Hospital at Manjeri. “It was a clear case of malnutrition death,” said Mr. Noushadali.

However, ITDP officials, in their report to the Sub Judge, said they had provided nutritional and health support to tribespeople, including Asha. “No sir, they are lying. They don’t give us what the government is spending for us. I am yet to get the rent of the vehicle that we hired to carry me to hospital after I was attacked by a wild gaur sometime ago,” said Kumara Kallan.

K.N. Subhash, Taluk Legal Services Committee secretary who accompanied the Sub Judge, told The Hindu that Cholanaikans, the only primitive tribe living in the forests of Nilambur, were in a pathetic state. “They shy away from mingling with the outer world. But they badly need care,” said Mr. Subhash.

Mr. Noushadali said the case was being investigated. The role and failure of all stakeholders concerned, including ITDP, health and revenue officials, will be probed, he added.

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Printable version | May 23, 2022 1:50:39 pm |