There was a meeting at YBA, Ooty on 10 -05 – 2014 called by the Nanjanadu Peace Committee, where one of the affected parties [called B Party – minority] came in full strength – [gratifying to see ladies participating]. By the way, it is really a sad reflection that we have to address people from the same hatti as A and B parties.
These families of about 500 persons from about 120 houses who had to abandon their houses in the aftermath of violent incidents on the night 16th Feb 2014 are yet to return to their homes and are living like refugees in rented houses and with relatives. REFUGEES IN THEIR OWN LAND- called NAKKU BETTA. What an irony in this age and time!
When I questioned one gentleman, why has he not returned home, he shot back, ” home, where is our home now – the one we owned and lived for hundreds of years has been destroyed by arson; the roof broken and dismantled, all the belongings including utensils have been looted, even the floor tiles have been broken with crow bars…”. His eyes welled up with tears.
When these ‘distraught, displaced and deeply saddened’ people were requested to describe their plight, what came out ‘straight from their hearts’ are indeed stories that should shock all Badagas.
‘We are not getting any posts and pension’ said an old and retired headmaster who listed a lot of grievances from a petition. ‘All our records like ration cards and revenue records have been destroyed’ he added.
‘Do we have to live like slaves and second class citizens forever just because we are in a minority [Nattas]’ lamented one,
‘The police who took us away in the night, saying that they were protecting us, instead put us in prisons’ alleged another,
‘No cases have been made against the four men who have been arrested under ‘goondas’ act and not released still’,
‘The district administration has not listened and responded to our requests and petitions and we are treated badly and made to run from pillar to post by the concerned authorities’
‘The education of our children have been badly affected and what will do when school session starts soon?’ he added
‘I am an unmarried woman, where can I go now?’ cried another soul,
‘Have you heard of Badaga women being put behind bars when we tried to protect our properties and inform the police?’ said a young mother,
‘The monsoon is approaching fast, what will happen to our houses that have no roofs [burnt down by mobs earlier]’
‘My aged mother was dragged out of the house and driven away from the house and hatti’
‘The workers are not permitted to pluck tea leaves from our estates and whatever they had already plucked was snatched and thrown down. The outsiders who have taken our ‘thotta’ – tea fields are being forced to abandon and threatened to leave denying us of any income.’
‘The root cause for all the trouble is one individual who is a politician’ told many.
‘Can all these things happen to us when the Honourable Chief Minister, who is known to be sympathetic to the suffering and strict with law breakers, is staying just a stone throw away in Kodanadu?’ cried a woman unconsolably ??
The ‘crowning glory of this very sad story is that the MILITARY medals of the soft spoken Doctor, who was a COLONEL with the Indian Army, have been detached from the display case, stolen and destroyed.
Shocking – yes. Beyond words. We all should hang our heads in shame.
[Meanwhile the peace committee is planning to visit Nanjanadu to initiate a dialogue with the majority – A party on monday 12th, May.
I sincerely hope and pray that the peace committee will not fall pray to a few publicity seekers who have the potential to derail the peace process].
This is the saddest story about our community I am reading so far in my lifetime. Really feeling very sad for all those affected people. Hope the team will find a good solution soon.