Chennai police help gypsy kids get educated

By Bhavani Prabhakar Published on Jul 26, 2018 04:47 PM IST

Chennai: The police jeep halts in an area at Ambattur in the city and around 12 Narikuravar children are seen to be getting off. Hang on! They are not criminals. With their backpacks and uniforms on, they walk up to their homes with all smiles.

It has been two years since they started attending schools. On seeing they becoming slaves to evil habits, the personnel of T1 police station in the locality are helping children by transporting them to school.

‘News Today’ meets the Narikuravar community to know more about their lives and livelihood.

“I have been residing in Ambattur since the time I was born,”tells 25-year-old Girija. “We were living at Thirumullaivoyal for around 18 years and moved to the pavements of Tambaram-Puzhal flyover three years ago,” adds as she feeds her child.

With the local police being courteous, Girija is happy that her brother and sister David, a Class five student and Anjali, a Class two student—are attending school.

“We do not want the future generation to become like us. We are cursed, beaten and ignored wherever we go. My only wish is to see my brother and sister go to work like every other person and I am glad that my siblings are happy going to school,” continues Girija.

When it comes to the livelihood of the gypsy community, gone are the days where Girija used to sell those flashy-beaded chains, earrings and anklets. You can no longer find the Narikuravar community in Ambattur having these accessories with them.

“My parents were Naadi Vaidhiyars, they used to treat people just by checking the pulse of the patient and prescribed herbal medicines. As years passed by, I lost them and failed to learn the art from my parents,”says she.

“We are looked down wherever we go. We are deprived of jobs despite living in an industrial area. We are shooed off and disrespected because of our identity,” rues Girija.

Owing to the societal stigma that the Narikuravar community face, they are now earning a livelihood by picking up metal wastes that are discarded by the industries along the streets.

“When we were selling beaded accessories, we were hardly earning and the sales also saw a dip and we had to look for some other opportunities. Now that we are picking up the waste, we get around Rs 400 per week,” adds Girija.