KOZHIKODE: The members of the Marwari community from Rajasthan, who are living on plots belonging to local residents on either side of NH-66 at Pookad near Koyilandy, are in dire straits as they are facing eviction from their tents where they have been living for the past four decades.
“After living here for close to four decades, Kerala has become our own land. It has been a green pasture for us, from eking out a living to schooling, peaceful atmosphere and a lot of good-hearted local people around. We don’t want to go back to our native state,” says 24-year-old Narayan Lal, a member of the idol making community.
Lal had his schooling up to Plus II in Thiruvangur Higher Secondary School nearby and speaks Malayalam fluently. NH widening has put them in a spot as the land they were living is going to be acquired and they have been asked to vacate the place soon.
Currently, there are three families, comprising 24 members, including eight children, living on either side of the road. Already 30 members have left for their home state. The three families live in the property of local residents on a rental basis.
“We don’t want to leave Kerala. It is here we started dreaming of a good life. We earned a decent income by selling Krishna idols and relished sadya and biriyani after being invited to local people’s functions. The climate is also too good here compared to Rajasthan,” said Narmada, wife of Narayan Lal. The community members remember the exemplary social kitchens set up during the pandemic that ensured that they were fed when they remained jobless. “Also, we feel safe here. In Rajasthan, violence is on the rise and many people are getting killed,” says Saravan, who studies in class IX.
After closely observing the lifestyle of local residents, the lad now nurtures an ambition to become an army officer. Brijesh, one of the plot owners, tells TNIE that he is trying to relocate the families in Pookad itself. “Though two places have been identified, a final decision is yet to be taken,” he says. He adds that the Rajasthanis are sad about returning to their home state.
Ward member Sudha K says the families would have to move out of the place as there is no option left before them. Under plastic roof of the tents, unsold Krishna idols, which they had made for sale during Vishu, stand as mute witnesses to the plight of the artisans.