Kerala Floods: Vaikom camps ignored because of caste, writes minister Thomas Isaac

There are more than 4000 families in 18 camps, but less media attention brought little relief material to Vaikom.
Kerala Floods: Vaikom camps ignored because of caste, writes minister Thomas Isaac
Kerala Floods: Vaikom camps ignored because of caste, writes minister Thomas Isaac
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When the floods came to Kerala, you heard of Chengannur, of Kuttanad and Ranni. The situation was undoubtedly bad there. But there were other places too that were hit badly, and for some reason, less talked of.

Vaikom had more than 50,000 people sheltered in a number of camps, minister Thomas Isaac wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday, but the media had not given it a lot of attention. 

"Yesterday's trip had been to the camps in Vaikom. More than 50,000 people were rescued from the floods and put up at camps. But for some reason the media had not given a lot of attention to floods in Vaikom. It made an impact too. When loads of relief material reached Chengannur and Kuttanad, nearly no one reached Vaikom," he wrote.

One of the reasons, according to the minister, is caste. “People in Kuttanad, both the rich and the poor, had to move to camps. In the camps of Vaikom, it is, however, mostly people belonging to the Scheduled Castes that you find. Their houses are in water holes. One rain can bring in water to the house. Even in times of distress, the influence of caste is so obvious!” he wrote.

A source in the local government confirmed that Vaikom did not get as much relief, “but you can’t blame anyone,” the source said. “Places like Chengannur and Kuttanad were the worst hit and it is later than Vaikom was affected,” they added. As of now, there are 4,426 families staying in 18 camps in Vaikom, the source said.

There have been four known deaths in the taluk. Some of the most affected villages were Chempu, Thalayazham, Kallara, Vechoor, and Kulasekharamangalam. “Houses in Vadayar were also badly hit,” the source said. “You could say from Thalayolaparambu onwards, it was pretty bad.”

Sunny M Kapikad, Dalit scholar and activist, said he would not be surprised if there has been such discrimination on the basis of caste. “I have not heard of any such incident so far, from the camps. I am from Vaikom and had visited the camps too. But it is quite possible. There is discrimination when it comes to Vaikom because it is a backward place, it’s got more people belonging to the Scheduled Caste. We talk about Malayalis rising to the occasion, but would they have done so if it had not affected the prominent people of the society?” he asks.

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