Bhupalpally: Little the hapless Gothi Koyas can do when 100-odd forest personnel swoop down on their hamlet that has around 30 huts in the thickets of Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, 220 km from Hyderabad. Jalagalancha is one among those 40-odd habitations housing Gothi Koyas migrated from strife-torn districts of Chhattisgarh, the hotbed of Left Wing Extremism (LWE).
Speaking to The Hans India, the Tudum Debba State vice-president Komaram Prabhakar said: “What the forest wing has done today is nothing but the continuation of ‘historical injustice’ prevailing for centuries on forest tribes. Migration of these Koyas from one schedule area to another is permissible. Moreover, these evicted tribals have ration, Aadhar and voter cards. Leaving the illegal forest dwellers, who in the guise of Adivasis taking shelter in the forest with the support of politicos, go scot free, the forest wing is playing havoc with the lives of primitive groups.”
Condemning the attack on Jalagalancha tribals, he said that forest personnel didn’t even spare the pregnant women.He said that Adivasi groups will stage a road blockade on NH-163 in protest against the Forest department.
Bhupalpally DFO T Ravi Kiran said: “We spoke to village elders at least thrice to vacate the place and relocate themselves in the revenue land near Tadwai bus station. We have also arranged a few huts for them. The district administration has also assured of providing basic amenities but the Gothi Koyas were adamant to leave their habitation. We have evicted them forcefully but didn’t use any coercive measures.”
He said that Jalagalancha is not a safe place for these tribals to live as it was located deep inside the forest in the limits of wildlife sanctuary. These tribals caused deforestation in more than 200 acres in the name of Podu, he said.
Madakam Jogaiah, Gothi Koya community elder of Jalagalancha, said that they were forced out of their habitat despite their prayers to allow them in the region.
Majority of the tribals who were evacuated from their habitat were shifted to the new location along with their belongings by tractors. Some of the tribals, who fled from the spot during the evacuation, are reportedly trying to go back to their hamlet.
It may be noted here that around 35 families of Devunigutta tribal hamlet were rendered homeless on April 21 when the forest wing officials reportedly burnt their huts, besides thrashing them.