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Kodava: A martial race that aims to win struggle for rights

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 26: The Kodavas, the tiny martial race from the Kodagu district in Karnataka, will demonstrate here on April 6 -- the World Minority Rights Day -- to highlight their struggle for development and maintainance of their distinct identity.

They will also demand the status of ''primitive ethnic tribe'' for Kodavas and all benefits accordingly, in the fields of education and employment under Article 340 of the Constitution.

The Kodavas, who prefer to call themselves 'Codavas' had a homeland, which later merged with Karnataka in 1956. However, the Kodavas bemoan the lack of development in their area as well as 'inadequate' political representation. They have formed an organisation 'Codava National Council' (CNC), whose slogan is -- ''Resistance without violence, confrontation without enemies and struggle until victory''.

CNC secretary general N U Nachappa, who has organised several such rallies in Delhi since 2001 told UNI that dilution of Kodava identity will be a curse because the race was sought to be ''eliminated, ignored, disrespected'' by successive governments regardless of their political affiliations.

The State as well as the Central governments have deliberately violated the principles, assurances and promises made to the Kodavas at the time of states' reorganisation, he asserted.

''After five decades of cohabitation in Karnataka, there has been no representative of Kodavas in the Lok Sabha. We only have three MLAs from three talukas, Madikeri, Virajpet and Kushal Nagara, located in the picturesque hilly coffee lands in Western Ghats, from where the Cauvery river originates,'' he said stressing that Kodagu gets no irrigation benefit although ''Cauvery takes her birth in our area.'' ''Karnataka and Tamil Nadu exploit the water ignoring the local needs,'' he said.

''We believe that no government, which leans on Kannada chauvinists and Kodava traitors could be expected to respond positively for our demands,'' Mr Nachappa added.

The Kodava men and women, recognised by their colourful traditional dresses, have contributed thousands of soldiers to the defence force of the country, including Field Marshal K M Cariappa -- the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces -- and General K S Thimmaya, Chief of the Army Staff from 1957 to 1961.

Besides a demonstration by the men and women dressed in traditional Kodava attires, the CNC also intends to hold a national-level seminar in Delhi, in which several intellectuals and professors of Jawaharlal Nehru University are expected to participate.


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