JAINOOR (KUMRAM BHEEM ASIFABAD DIST.: Ever wondered what happens to people who are exiled from respective villages for their alleged 'criminal' activities? Ever wondered where the outcasts go and what kind of hardships they face after being driven away by fellow human beings?
Whatever may have happened to such people about a decade back, they are now assured of shelter in Rajulguda village on the outskirts of Jainoor Mandal headquarter in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district. It is a unique habitation for offering refuge to some of those who have been externed from tribal hamlets as punishment for allegedly indulging in witchcraft.
Aboriginal tribe people are known to be highly superstitious and often believe witchcraft and black magic to be the cause of epidemics and other diseases that keep plaguing them from time to time. If villagers start suspecting any individual of practicing sorcery they gang up against him and his family and the end result is that the latter is forced to quit the village.
There have been instances when individuals were suspected of murder through their practice of voodoo. Such ostracized persons are handed over dire threats and literally hounded out of the village.
In 2016, a Kolam Adivasi person was chased and stoned to death by his compatriots after they suspected him of being responsible for the general ill-health of villagers by invoking black magic. This is just one of the extreme incidents which take place periodically in the agency tracts.
"Some 10 years back, I found Kanaka Sham Rao, hailing from Kanchanpalli (now in Lingapur Mandal of KB Asifabad) roaming the streets of Utnoor (now in Adilabad district). On inquiring, I found that he and his wife were expelled from Kanchanpalli where the entire village suspected them of practicing witchcraft," recalled Athram Yadav Rao, a Raj Gond tribal and a practitioner of indigenous medicine as he talked of the circumstances leading to the establishment of Rajulguda.
Rajulguda, a village set up in 8 acres of wasteland purchased by Yadav Rao a decade ago, now has 13 families all of who were externed after being branded with indulging in sorcery. Sham Rao and his wife Dhurpadabai are the oldest among the villagers and 50-year-old Sedmaki Namdev and his family from Dhanora in Sirpur (U) Mandal are the latest to start living in this 'special' village having come three months back.
Yadav Rao sells a plot of land in Rajulguda for Rs. 10,000. "Not all of them have paid the money and I do not mind even if they have defaulted," he grinned as he pointed out towards the dynamics of settling down in the village. "I am happy that he found us," old Sham Rao joined the conservation. "I dread where we would have ended up otherwise," he observed looking back into the past.
Not that a lot of the stigmatized has improved once they start living in Rajulguda. It is very difficult for the aged Kanaka couple to survive on the Rs. 2,000 pension that Dhurpadabai gets and the Rs. 200 wages she gets on the days when she is able to land some work in fields.
Namdev, who was made to abandon his five acres of agricultural land, is finding the going quite tough as he needs to find work practically every day to feed his family. There are others like Marsakola Sheku of Pawarguda and Mesram Chinnu of Jainoor who too find life a difficult proposition.
Despite the distinctive identity that the village has, it hardly has any civic facilities. There is a need for the government to recognize the effort of the Patel or village headman Yadav Rao and offer civic amenities. "There is no approach road to this habitation and no sanitation. We also need a perennial supply of drinking water," Yadav Rao sought help from the government.