The Paliyans are proud to vote in elections according to a news story posted in this website nearly seven years ago. It appears from a report in The Hindu on April 6 as if they are still just as committed to voting.

A grizzled squirrel (Photo by Cyrillic in Wikimedia, in the public domain)
A grizzled squirrel (Photo by Cyrillic in Wikimedia, in the public domain)

A Paliyan community near Shenbagathoppu asked officials to establish a voting place for them right in their community, even though it has only 30 families, 62 voters. The new polling station was established at the Tribal Residence School in Shenbagathoppu, which is near an entrance to the enormous Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary.

The polling place was staffed on election day but only 52 voters had showed up by closing time. So the administrative staff decided to keep the polling site open and wait for the rest who were still expected. The staff responsible for administering the voting, three of whom were women, had arrived the evening before. Since the school has no rest rooms, the women were allowed to use the facilities in a private home nearby.

Paliyan men at a Murugan temple in Tamil Nadu
Paliyan men at a Murugan temple in Tamil Nadu (Photo by Steve Bonta, used by permission)

Beginning at 7:00 am the voters had begun trickling in. P. Gopal, the leader of the community, told The Hindu that the voters had to spend their days gathering honey and herbs in the forest so they would only be able to show up when they could and one by one at that. When the polling spot finally closed, 55 voters had cast their ballots.

Our news story of May 1, 2014, about the Paliyan pride in having the right to vote made it clear that not all of India’s peaceful societies share their attitude. As of that date, the Birhor and the Kadar were boycotting national elections due to the discrimination they felt they were getting from the majorities in their states. The Paliyan at the time also felt discrimination from the majority Tamils but they decided that voting was a positive way to approach their problems. It appears as if the people in Shenbagathoppu still cherish those values.