Kannada film actor Chetan Kumar says that he believes in social justice. He even volunteers as an instructor in a government school in Mullur. This time, he camped with adivasis who were evicted from the forests of Kodagu. He was there for a day and a half.
The Fulbright Scholar and graduate of Yale University says that he finds the way the state treats the adivasis “really hurtful”. “Their living conditions are so bad,” he says. He blames the coffee-plantation owners for paying them less than minimum wages and ill treating them.
He demands that they be given better facilities such as water for drinking and sanitation, shelter and education. He says, “The political representatives, I hear, even took money from them to give them what is due to them.”
Chetan refers to adivasis as the original inhabitants. “They are where we come from,” he says. “They deserve this land and they have been denied of this basic right.”
Many people claim that his protest is just a publicity stunt. But Chetan says, “It is publicity, in a way. But if the publicity is to help people, then it is not a stunt but a genuine effort. I have been working for several social issues for 11 years and I keep them to myself."
Chetan is planning to meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah along with other activists. They demand not just land for the adivasis but also punishment for all the violators of human rights, including police, government representatives and forest officials.
He adds, “It’s been 13 days and they are living in the open with no roof or shelter." Chethan says he intends to go back and stay with them until they get their rights. “I cannot just visit them and then spend the night at some luxurious resort. That will be ideologically unjustifiable.”