February 13, 2017 12:50:39 pm
The ethnic ‘Wanarmare’ tribe in Goa which was living in near total obscurity, recently put forward a step to join the mainstream and crossed a major milestone in their lives when they voted for the first time in the State Legislative Assembly elections held on February 4. The community members who lived for ages in forests of Goa without any documentation, finally saw themselves queuing up for voting in Shiroda constituency during the polls. This milestone also summed up their two year long struggle to get into the mainstream which was supported by agricultural expert and social activist Sachin Tendulkar, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) Officer Sachin Shinde, and lawyer Vasudha Sawaikar among others.
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Isolated and reclusive, this tribe is known for their age-old tradition of chasing and slaying monkeys in the forests of Goa-Karnataka and Maharashtra earning them the name Wanarmare. The tribe has now given up this tradition to take up work in sugarcane farms along Goa’s Sanguem taluka.
“One bow and arrow is what is left with them which they symbolically worship. After they gave up the tradition of monkey slaying, they were left without any work hence they took up casual jobs in farms. But the aim of absorption into the mainstream still remained a distant dream for them,” Tendulkar said.
The tribe which keeps migrating had arrived at a spartan agricultural village of Kosambshel in Nirancal panchayat in Sanguem taluka in 2012, where they were put up in a private land. Tendulkar narrated how when he went there for the first time, the tribe was living in a few huts without even basics like a bedsheet to beat the cold.
“When we went there in September 2014 and spread the word, the help started pouring in. But the main issue was to get them the legal documents,” he said. Then South Goa District Collector Sachin Shinde came as a major help for the tribes who were first offered ration cards under Central government’s Food Security Scheme and then the Aadhar card.
About 35 members from the tribe even opened their bank account, he said. The major milestone in their life came when after a long struggle, 40 members got their voter ID cards with the help of Vasudha.
“It was a good initiative to bring the tribe into the mainstream. We would welcome more such efforts to bring in those people who are left out,” Goa’s Chief Electoral Officer Kunal told PTI.
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