Adivasi activists in Kerala have come out strongly against Tanur Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) V Abdurahiman’s derogatory statement against the tribal community in the state. At a recent press conference Abdurahiman made offensive statements against the Adivasi community to lash out against Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) MLA C Mammutty.
"Those coming from the Adivasi community need not come to teach us. We are people who were born and brought up in Tirur (a place in Malappuram) and did not come from Adivasi tribes. So what is to be taught to Adivasis can be taught to them, don't come here and teach that to us," said Abdurahiman, a Left Democratic Front (LDF)-backed independent MLA on November 6. This was in response to statements made by Tirur MLA C Mammutty, a native of Wayanad., who alleged that the state government was allegedly ignoring his constituency.
Many tribal activists have slammed Abdurahiman for his comments and demanded an apology.
"He has hurt the dignity of the community deeply. Is he using 'Adivasi' as an abusive word to belittle someone? He has said that the Tirur MLA should not come to teach them but rather teach Adivasis. Does that mean the Tirur MLA is ignorant and we tribal people are stupid?" asks Chithra Nilambur, tribal activist from Malappuram, adding that Abdurahiman should apologise.
Speaking to TNM, M Geethanandan, state coordinator of Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, said that the statement of the elected legislator shows the institutionalised, deep-rooted discrimination towards tribal persons. "It's so deeply rooted that even an MLA does not realise this is problematic. And he thinks Adivasi is a term used to abuse people. The statement should be withdrawn or we will react strongly against this," says Geethanandan.
Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha leader CK Janu also condemned the MLA for his slur. Speaking to Asianet News Online, she said that the MLA should apologise. “This is a cheap and silly statement. How do those who do not understand the public sit as people's representatives? He should resign,” CK Janu said. She also added that the public perception about Adivasis was the reason people are not reacting to the incident.
Most of the political class have chosen to remain silent over the controversy. Chithra Nilambur criticised the silence of AK Balan, Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes.
Congress leader VT Balram, MLA of Thirthala constituency in Palakkad, is one of the few politicians who has slammed Abdurahiman’s anti-tribal statement. "The MLA has the same mentality of CPI(M) cyber warriors who call Rahul Gandhi ‘tribal chief’ since he represents Wayanad. This is the same statement he has made against MLA Mammutty who hails from Wayanad. It seems those people with a Left label who scrutinise other people's words closely and take classes on political correctness have not even come to know about this,” VT Balaram wrote on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the Fraternity Students Movement has taken out a protest march in Malappuram against the MLA for his remarks.
Watch: MLA Abdurahiman's derogatory remarks against the tribal community