Tribal couple ostracised in Ker; Seeks govt intervention

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 22 (PTI) An elderly tribal couple, lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his 'Mann Ki Baat' for opening a library in a deep forest area in Kerala, have been ostracised by their own community for 'helping' in authoring of a book that allegedly showed it in poor light.

P V Chinnathampi (77) and Maniyamma (62) of Edamalakudy hamlet deep inside the Idukki forests are running from pillar to post seeking help after they were ousted from their village by an 'oorukoottam' (a meeting of the village) earlier this month.

On Thursday, they along with teacher-writer P K Muraleedharan, who co-founded the library in Edamalakudy in 2012, met state Minister for SC/ST Welfare A K Balan here and sought his intervention and had been 'assured' of all help.

'The Minister told us that he will speak to Devikulam MLA S Rajendran. The couple are unable to go back to their hamlet,' Muraleedharan said.

Chinnathampi and his wife were now staying at place of Muraleedharan's friend near here.'How long can they live at the mercy of others ?' Muraleedharan asked.

The trio's efforts in setting up the library had won praise from Modi in his first monthly 'Mann Ki Baat' radio address after being voted back to power in June this year.

Muraleedharan and Chinnathampi had first set up a small library at the latter's tea shop. The collection of books was shifted to a Lower Primary school nearby in 2017.

Chinnathampi and Maniyamma have been accused of helping Muraleedharan in writing the book that allegedly showed the Muthuvan Tribal community in a poor light.

Muraleedharan said he wrote the book 'Edamalakkudy: Oorum, porulum' in 2014 and none had any issues all these days.

'I used to react against the corruption in implementing various schemes and exploitation of the tribes. I think those who were involved in all these activities are behind the decision to oust the family,' Muraleedharan told PTI.

When contacted, Rajendran said no one has the right to ostracise anyone from anywhere and he would talk to the village panchyat officials.

'I heard about the issue. The Tribal community alleges that Muralee has written a book showcasing the tribes in bad light. I have known Chinnathampi for a long time. I am sure that he will not do such things. I will talk to the Panchayat officials who were involved in this matter,' he said.

Muraleedharan said he wrote the book after consulting several people and it was not right to ostracise the couple.

If at all the community has any problem with his book, there were legal remedies available, he added.

'It's shameful that such practices exist even in this century. If I have written something wrong, which I have not, the Tribal community can move the court. Let the court decide,' he said.

'Now that they cannot enter the hamlet and I am with the couple, the students of the school where I was teaching have been affected,' Muraleedharan said.

The 'oorukoottam', which ousted the couple, was allegedly headed by Edamalakkudy Tribal Grama Panchayat President.

The members of the tribe allege that the book written by Muraleedharan contained derogatory statements against the community and believe the tribal couple helped Muraleedharan in gathering information for the work.

Edamalakudy, a small hamlet in Devikulam Taluk, is also the first tribal Grama Panchayath in the state formed in 2010.