CHENNAI: Fifty long years have passed ever since the Lokur Committee appointed by the Central government recommended inclusion of the Narikurava community in the list of Scheduled Tribes. However, members of this ancient tribal community in Tamil Nadu, who were predominantly hunters, have been struggling to get ST status for the past four decades.
In this regard, members of the Tamil Nadu Narikuravar Kuruvikkarar Welfare Federation are staging an agitation at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on December 4.
On Monday, office-bearers of the association including M Jayasankar, its coordinator, called on the office-bearers of the AIADMK, CPM, CPI, BJP and Congress and submitted a memorandum requesting them to take up the issue in Parliament through their MPs. National Alliance for People’s Movement convenor Medha Patkar and social activist Swami Agnivesh too will be participating in the agitation.
Jayashankar told ‘Express’ that Narikuravas were still on the MBC list and if the community got ST status, their representation in top government posts would go up and they could get many more concessions extended by the government.
At present, just one woman, Indira, from the community holds the post of Forest Range Officer in Chennai. The population of Narikuravas in the State currently stands at around 40,000.
“In 1965, the Lokur Committee appointed by the Central government had recommended that the Narikuravar alias Kuruvikkarar community be given ST status. Further, the Tribal Research Centre in Ooty, after extensive research, established that the Narikuravas are tribes,” he pointed out.
Arul Doss, Tamil Nadu convenor for the National Alliance of People’s Movement, who has been striving for securing ST status for the Narikurava community said, “Successive governments, including the present Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, had written many a letter to the Centre in this regard, but the demand is yet to be fulfilled.”
He said though there had been some changes in the lifestyle of Narikuravas over a period of time, their social and economic status was not sound.
Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, on August 27, 2013, wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister on the issue. “The Narikuravars constitute one of the most deprived and vulnerable communities in TN, who are nomadic and extremely poor and deserve all the Constitutional protection, by inclusion in the list of STs. Justice in the form of inclusion of the community in the list of STs has eluded the Narikuravars for far too long. They urgently need to be provided all the Constitutional guarantees envisaged by Article 342 of the Constitution of India to enable them to lead a life of equality and dignity along with other citizens of India,” she said.