Dabhal: First time in the history of Independent India, the tribe of monkey slayers living in Goa would be voting to chose Prime Minister of the country on April 23, when they will exercise their franchise in South Goa Parliamentary constituency.
After a long saga of neglect, this group of around 100 people, including 40 eligible voters, are part of the mainstream Indian citizenship, donning voters’ card.
While they have voted for 2017 Goa Legislative Assembly election with 100 per cent voting turnout amongst them, this would be for the first time that they would be part of world’s biggest democratic exercise.
The nomadic tribe of monkey slayers, traditionally known for their skill of hunting down monkeys in the forests, have been living in the thickly forest areas of Goa, since long.
Social activist and Agriculturist Sachin Tendulkar who took the initiative of rehabilitating this tribe, who never existed on the demographical map of the country, recalls how it took several years to get them ration card, voters card and even Adhar Card. The tribe was prone for exploitation after their money slaying skills were banned due to strict implementation of Wildlife Protection Act, he said.
The tribe now resides at Nirancal-Dabhal village, 90 kms away from here in South Goa Parliamentary constituency.
“We are eager to vote. After getting voting card and adhar card, we feel as if we are also Indian citizens. It’s good to feel one amongst the others,” Gopal Vasant Powar, head of the tribe said.
None of the voter from this tribe which consists 20 women voters miss the polling day. Powar narrates how they had never heard of anything called voting till recently as they were disassociated from the mainstream.
The rehabilitation of the tribe saw several children going to schools and pre-primary institutions. “When they were taken for admission in school, the main issue was their birth certificate. The children were born in jungle and no one remembered their age or date of birth,” he said.
The authorities then permitted them to get into the school under Right to Education Act, and for the convenience of all, each of them were given single date of birth, Tendulkar said.
Now, all the children write their date of birth as January 01, while year of birth has been estimated depending on the memory of their parents or their intellectual level.
The monkey slayer tribe who lived in the forests of Goa-Maharashtra-Karnataka before settling at Nirancal-Dabhal. The tragedy of this tribe is that the elderly amongst them who were skilled in monkey slaying have passed away due to excessive drinking.
Interestingly, the tribe never had Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly visiting them.
When asked what is their expectation from the new Central government, 65-year-old Govind, the eldest in the tribe, feels that government should provide them toilet facility and electricity connection.
“We have to defecate in open due to lack of toilet. We want government to look into our demand,” he said.