People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 40

October 02, 2011



AARM Condemns Wayanad Incident

Of Demeaning Tribal Women


The following is the text of the memorandum sent by Brinda Karat on behalf of the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch (AARM) to Dr Rameswar Uraon, chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes on September 28, 2011


I would like draw your attention to an outrageous case in which policemen in Wayanad, Kerala, have deliberately and willfully demeaned, insulted and committed an act which can be described as stripping of tribal women.


I personally met some of the women victims when I visited Wayanad on September 23. The incidents occurred on September 16, 2011 between 10 and 11 am. The tribal women were on the way to attend a function being organised by the government in which tribals were to be given land pattas by the chief minister. In Wayanad, tribal women traditionally wear a black cloth tightly tied around their waist called a “katcha.” On that day, when the women in their traditional attire were going to the chief minister’s function in Pattayamela, Kalpetta, they were stopped by the male police, who forcibly removed the black cloth around their waists. Some of the women subjected to this are Nanl, Kuppa and Chukki. When the women protested they were threatened by the police. They were told that this was a “precautionary” measure to prevent them from using their traditional black cloth as a black flag to protest against the chief minister.


This perverted logic adds insult to injury. Is it the right of the police to strip women of clothing which is black in colour in the name of protecting the chief minister? Does it not also reflect on the utter insensitivity of the police to the traditional attire of tribal women? Would they dare to commit such an atrocity on any other section of the population?


Shockingly, even after the women complained to the authorities, no action has been taken against a single policeman. I would request the commission to inquire into the matter and ensure that action is taken under the different laws as well as the relevant provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Act.  The police action constitutes an atrocity under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act under Sec 3.1.(iii) – whosoever….forcibly removes clothes from the person of a member of the Scheduled Tribes; under (x) – intentionally insults or intimidates with a view to humiliate a member of the ST in any place within public view; and under (xi) –assaults or uses force on any woman belonging to ST with intent to dishonour…


I also request you to ensure that the women are compensated for the insult to their dignity.