Kerala

Tribespeople caught in the crossfire

Tribal chieftain Kelu and his wife Ammini of the Chappa tribal colony at Kunhome in Wayanad district.

Tribal chieftain Kelu and his wife Ammini of the Chappa tribal colony at Kunhome in Wayanad district.  

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Police are hot in pursuit of Maoists who frequent the Kunhome forests

The tribesmen of the remote tribal settlements inside the Kunhome section of forests under the North Wayanad Forest division lament the loss of their tranquil life following recurring incidents of Maoists presence in the area.

“We had been leading a quite peaceful life in our settlements inside the forest for the past many generations, till the Maoists started visiting the area nearly one year ago,” Kelu Mooppan, the tribal chieftain of the Chappa Kurichya tribal settlement said.

There are four tribal settlements in the area which are surrounded by forests. The place does not have good roads, medical facilities, schools or even proper houses.

When a group of armed militants, comprising three men and two women, appeared for the first time in the Chappa nearly a year ago, the tribals provided them food and other provisions as per their demand. “We provided food and three kg of rice to them but, we never thought that it would be a headache in the near future,” he said.

The same day the militants approached three other tribal settlements in the area and advised the tribesmen to support them in their cause to escape the wretched life they lead in the remote settlements.

But when the police officials interrogated the tribesmen the next day, they understood the gravity of the situation.

“'Now we are in the middle of the Devil and the deep sea, as the police have asked us to give secret information on the next visit of the militants,” a youth of the settlement said.

“We also expect the next visit of the militants at any moment in the middle of the night,” he added.

'There are 13 members in my family and if I purchase more than 10 kg of rice from Niravilpuzha town, the nearest market nearly four km away from here, the public watch us suspiciously,” he said.

A few officials of the elite Thunderbolt team tried to nab a tribal youth, suspecting him to be a member of the armed militant group who had fired on them, on Sunday night.

The youth was actually guarding his plantain crops from animal attack.

Released

He was released after the timely intervention of the local police, the youth said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:40:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/wayanad-tribespeople-caught-in-maoist-crossfire/article6675165.ece

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