Criminal Tribes Act
Most tribes, especially the Irulars, who lived in the plains were included as criminals. It is a routine police practice to harass them by falsely accusing them of any theft occurring several kilometres away from their residence. It has also been a practice to sexually assault the women of the house who try to seek justice against it. Already their lives had been subjected to many hardships like drought, livestock destruction, poverty, and cultural destruction. They were living below the income line. In this situation, false cases by the police affected their position very badly.
People who cannot get a caste certificate
Getting a caste certificate is the biggest challenge for the Irular people. The authority to issue caste certificates for the Scheduled Tribe category rests with Commissioner. Children apply for a caste certificate as it is necessary to apply in schools and colleges and get educational incentives, but the commissioner does not verify it and gives it on time. Due to this education is questionable for many children.
A life without basic comfort
They have no proper residence. The government refuses to give them when they ask patta for their place of residence. Even though the government allocates funds for housing, the reason why they are not eligible for it is because of their absence of a place of residence. The shanty areas where they live do not have any basic facilities like electricity, drinking water, roads etc. There is no right in the public lake, pond and puddles of the village. They have been fighting with the government for many years to build them government housing. And one has to walk several kilometres to fetch drinking water. So clean drinking water is a big dream for them. All the houses do not have proper electricity and only a few houses have electricity.
There is no primary health care facility where the Irular lives. So many miles have to be covered even in the most urgent times like childbirth despite illness. Many lives are lost as there is no transport facility to go this way. In today's situation, continuous protests are going on for various demands. But it is a very cruel situation that the Irular have to struggle daily to get caste certificates and residence certificates. Even though the government allocates crores of funds to the tribals every year, their condition does not seem to have improved. Doubts arise as to whether the money earmarked for the settlement of most of the Irular is properly managed. According to the 2011 census, approximately 7.21 lakh tribals live in Tamil Nadu. Disappointingly, less than 27.9% of them are literate.
2020-21 Financial Statement
In this 2020-21 financial statement, the current government has allocated more funds than the previous one, which is approximately Rs 6108.60 crore. The State Government's allocation under the Scheduled Caste Sub-Scheme is welcome. This is 21.82 per cent of the total financial allocation.
It has promised to build houses for 8,803 tribal families under Chief Minister's Green House Scheme in 2020-21. Rs 395 crore will be provided in three years to carry out the works of connecting roads, streetlights, solar lights and water supply.
And in the budget estimates for 2020-21, tribals have been given Rs 210 crore in addition to the schemes sanctioned in 2019-20. All this is welcome.
An insecure life
Police do not properly register cases against tribals and their protection is not ensured using the Prevention of Atrocities Act. Even if it does, it is not properly reported to the National Crime Records Bureau. Because between 1993 and 2009, 401 complaints have been lodged in police stations in the Villupuram district through the Tribal Irular Protection Society alone.
So, we can estimate how many atrocities would have taken place every year across the state and how many complaints would have been filed. But a look at the National Crime Records Bureau statistics is shocking. The tribals should be stopped from making false cases, arrests and torture.
Adi Dravidar – Tribal Welfare Commission
To protect the legal rights of Adi Dravidians and tribals at the state level and to solve their important problems, Chief Minister M.K.Stalin has announced in the Legislative Assembly that a new body called 'Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidian - Tribal Welfare Commission' will be created to function with autonomous authority.
Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar - Tribal Welfare Commission has been ordered by Chief Minister M.K.Stalin to appoint the chairman and members. Also, the Tamil Nadu government has provided Rs 265 crore for the basic amenities of the Adi Dravidian people. The government should take appropriate measures to ensure the safety of tribal people in future.
(Note: Articles written in close reference to the book “Life of Irular People”)
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.