Crying in the wilderness
Though many governments have changed, there does not appear to be any hope for over 4,000 Guthi Koyas who have migrated from Chhattisgarh to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh during the last decade. Known as internally displaced persons (IDPs), they are settled in seven mandals in AP and 14 mandals in Telangana.
- Forced to leave their hamlets in Chhattisgarh
- Sandwiched between by police and Maoists
- Not covered under any govt welfare scheme
- Live in abject poverty, shunned by even NGOs
Rajahmundry: Though many governments have changed, there does not appear to be any hope for over 4,000 Guthi Koyas who have migrated from Chhattisgarh to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh during the last decade. Known as internally displaced persons (IDPs), they are settled in seven mandals in AP and 14 mandals in Telangana. A look at their faces amply indicates the miserable plight that they are in, owing to callousness of both Chhattisgarh and the State in which they live.
The Guthi Koya adivasis are concentrated in Sukma, Bijapur and Kunta areas of Chhattisgarh state. They eke out a living by collecting forest produce. They would cross over to the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh during the harvest season of tobacco and red chillies and go back once the season is over.
But their life changed once clash between the police and Maoists started in the name of Jal, Jungle and Jameen. They suffered a lot since Salwa Judum (Purification Hunt) was launched in Chhattisgarh. The police branded them as Maoist sympathisers and the Maoists also used to harass them, suspecting them to be police informers.
Scores of houses of the Guthi Koyas in Sukma, Bijapur and Kunta were set on fire. Unable to face the wrath of Salwa Judum, thousands of Guthi Koyas migrated to Chintur, Koonavaram, Vara Ramachandra Puram, Nellipaka, Veleru Padu, Kukkunuru, Burgam Padu mandals which were agency mandals in Bhadrachalam division in undivided Andhra Pradesh from 2004 to 2012 and they came to be known as IDPs.
Since then the successive governments in united Andhra Pradesh and now the respective governments after the bifurcation have not been bothered about their welfare. The forest department views them as illegal encroachers into reserve forest land. Many of them are even facing court cases slapped by forest department for cutting trees. Add to this, the police continue to look upon them as Maoist sympathizers.
The Koyas do not have even the basic infrastructural facilities and are facing serious problems even to get potable drinking water and food. They have no access to health care services, education and cannot get ration. Only handful of them have taken to podu cultivation.
The language barrier between the IDPs who speak Hindi or Gond language and government officials and politicians who speak Telugu is also adding to their problems. Even the ITDAs which have been set up for the comprehensive development of the tribals are also washing their hands off Koyas.