Telangana

Suffering, thy name is Adivasi

In dire straits: Some of the abandoned houses at Kopaguda village in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.  

The eerie silence at the tiny Kolam hamlet, Kopaguda, the first of the 14 habitations on either side of the 22-km road leading to Jodeghat village from Hatti, is indicative of the condition of Adivasis having worsened in the 77 years since the martyrdom of Kumram Bheem and 70 years of independence from the rule of the Nizam. Seven of the 10 families living in this old habitation abandoned their homes last summer, having lost their land and also owing to shortage of drinking water.

The patel or village headman, Athram Koddu, is silently suffering the ignominy of his daughter-in-law having been ‘kidnapped’ by a non-tribal over two months ago. She was ‘found’ by the police after a month of sexual abuse by the culprit, but the police ignored all pleas for justice.

On October 6, the government would organise the 77th martyrdom anniversary of Kumram Bheem at Jodeghat in Kerameri mandal of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district with much fanfare. There were apparently no problems of the kind faced by Kopaguda patel during the times of the Raj Gond hero who had laid down his life in a brief struggle in these parts demanding rights for aboriginal farmers to cultivate the forest land.

Though the government has laid a pipeline to supply drinking water, not all habitations, including Kopaguda, are connected to it. “In summer we have to fetch water from Hatti, walking for over 2 km of hilly road,” the patel explained.

The Kolams of Kopaguda and other habitations along the road have lost land as part of exploitation. While the non-tribals made them part with about 150 acres, the comparatively recently settled Lambada plains tribe have purchased an equal extent of land from the aboriginal tribes after burdening them with unrepayable debt amount of about ₹1 lakh on an average.

As a result of losing the land, about 10 Kolam families from Babejhari village, where Kumram Bheem had his first skirmish with the Nizam’s forces in 1940, abandoned their habitation and established another one, Shivaguda. Even here, they are allegedly being made to face power cuts and other kinds of problems by the plains tribe people.

The ploy of non-tribals and tribal aggressors is to make life difficult for the peace-loving Adivasis so that they abandon their fields. These ‘readymade’ fields would then be occupied by others.

“We never get any protection from the government. We cannot pay bribes to officials,” lamented the Kolam patel as he threw light on the situation which also shows the way for taking corrective steps to usher in tribal development.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 5:58:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/suffering-thy-name-is-adivasi/article19797920.ece

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