COVID-19 surge: Narikuravars of Shoolagiri village fear starvation during lockdown

A video account of hunger and destitution has surfaced from the village calling for help from the Krishnagiri district administration.

“It has been four days since I ate. Staying alive has become a chore,” says a weeping woman of indeterminate age. “There is no rice, no vegetables, no oil,” she says.

An old man, runs his hands over his stomach tucked in from emaciation and says he has not eaten for two days. “We somehow survived the first coronavirus [wave]. But, we can’t survive this,” he says.

Narikuravars of Kariyasanthiram village in Nerigam panchayat in Shoolagiri are apprehensive of the prospects of starvation, as the lockdown imposed over the last week because of the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed them deeper into hunger and destitution.

A wrenching video account of hunger and destitution has surfaced from the village calling for help from the Krishnagiri district administration.

Cooped up in their tin-roofed tenements on the periphery of the village, this nomadic community that eked out a living on the streets by selling wares and lived on daily sustenance has been pushed into a static mode and abject poverty.

Shoolagiri has seen surge in COVID-19 cases next to Hosur, with many villages witnessing abnormal number of funerals as “home deaths.” In its wake, this colony of Narikuravars has come to be viewed as potential spreaders.

“If we go out, the police lathi charge us and the villagers beat us. We live in the forest (outside of the village). There is no rice, no groceries, no pulses. We are 200 families. Please send us help,” says another woman with folded hands.

Unlike the first, the second wave of cases accompanied by mortalities and flooded hospitals has shrunk space for public action by volunteers, leaving those like this nomadic community out of the civic action radar. The Hindu has shared the video with Collector V. Jayachandra Bhanu Reddy.

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