Chalbadi envelops a turbulent adivasi history

The tribal hamlet was the meeting point for Kumram Bheem and his band of rebels

Talan natke Jodeghat, kiski jagda Babejhari, chapdi kusri Balanpura, kark vark Chorpalli, kal badi the Chalbadi.” So goes the old Gondi rhyme of a saying which means Jodeghat stands for beheading, Babejhari stands for pinching fights, Balanpur denotes tasteless food, Chorpalli is like pungent food but Chalbadi stands for the march ahead.

The marching ahead refers to the rebellion led by the legendary Adivasi leader Kumram Bheem against the armed forces of the Nizam of Hyderabad during the 1930s which finally resulted in his attaining martyrdom on September 1, 1940. Bheem was fighting for getting rights to cultivate forest lands and his band of rebels had waged their struggle from the hilly parts of the present day Kerameri mandal in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

“My father used to recite the rhyme to tell us that Chalbadi was a preferred meeting point of the rebels who met with success every time they had a meeting to chalk out strategy,” recalled the head of the only family living in the village, old Korenga Govind Rao, of the centrality of his village to the struggle of the band of armed men. Bheem, who had shifted base from Babejhari was later killed in a gun battle at Jodeghat, much as the saying goes.

Off main road

Concealing itself in the thick vegetation and enveloping the turbulent history of Adivasis, Chalbadi is located 5 km off the Hatti-Jodeghat road branching away about a km from Tokyan Movvad. The habitation was abandoned after it was burnt down by the Forest Department in 1954-55 over the issue of the tribals cultivating forest land. “I was young then and returned to the village in 1978-79 and was later joined by a few Kolam families,” Mr. Govind Rao said of the revival of the hamlet which had eventually attracted attention of the world at the turn of this century for generating electricity using biodiesel.

Model village

The far-flung village had been developed as a model village under the Velugu project run by the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty through the Integrated Tribal Development Agency, Utnoor.

Notwithstanding its reputation in use of bio-diesel, the village fell on bad times once again when its inhabitants abandoned it in 2002 following the ‘oppression’ unleashed by the police after the mine blast on the Jodeghat road on November 1, 2001. No one who had left the village then has returned back but everyone makes it a point to reach Jodeghat to attend the Bheem martyrdom anniversary ceremonies, which falls on October 13 this instance.

Also, the 55,000 pongamia saplings planted around the village way back are healthy even now but the huge electricity generator is gone. The bio-diesel extracted from pongamia, however, is being used by Govind Rao’s family in lamps.

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