1955-story of 200 families from Kerala and relocated in Intkheri (pronounced as Eedkhedi) at madhyapradesh.-"They looked different, spoke a strange tongue and ate huge mounds of rice. Our parents were convinced they were barbarians". thought the native tribals
When the first set of 71 Malayali families came on May 1, 1955, the locals—mostly Gond tribals and other OBCs like Naees and Kushwahas—resisted. “We would run away from them. We didn’t know where they had come from. They looked different, spoke a strange tongue and ate huge mounds of rice. Our parents were convinced they were barbarians"
In 1955, a number of landless families,200 families from Kerala ,—mainly Ezhavas and Nairs and Christians—were brought from Travancore-Cochin state (before it became Kerala) and given land in then Bhopal state under a Central Mechanised Farming project. The biggest lure for these poor families from places like Kuttanad, Aluva and Trissur in Kerala was the 12 acres that each of them would get in four villages—Intkheri, Imilia, Urudmao and Majoos Kalan—. They also got, among other things, a pair of bulls, a plough, seeds for sowing and an igloo-shaped, tin-roof barrack, the money for which they had to pay in easy installments. According to the initial terms of agreement, the selected people would be employed on daily wages to work on the farm for two years, during which they would be trained to sow and harvest wheat and soyabean and they in turn would teach the native tribals paddy cultivation. The land would be transferred to them at the end of the 10th year after they paid the prescribed premium.
But things didn’t quite work according to plan. After the reorganisation of states on November 1, 1956, Bhopal state became part of a greater Madhya Pradesh and the project wound up in 1957—eight years ahead of schedule. According to the settlers, the pending installments were calculated as dues and thrust on them.
“That came as a shock. they were suddenly branded as debtors and could no longer avail of loans. they struggled for years on this alien land and all those people who were supposed to implement the project vanished. they have worked on paddy fields back home but wheat was entirely new
All this while, the debts kept mounting and a lot of settlers went back to Kerala, putting up their land for distress sales. In 1970, after several requests to ministers and officials of the state government went unheeded
In 1984, the Centre waived their loans—close to Rs 5 lakh
About 19 families went back soon after and others left over the years. Now there are about 100 families left in these four villages,they introduced coconut trees, curry leaves, banana plants, arrack nut plants, tapioca, Lungis, Kasavumundu, Malayalam language – to their village . But not Communism and unionism!
“My god! We are happy that we have not brought unionism! Otherwise, we would have starved to death. Those union people would not have even allowed us to harvest our own crops!” said Kesavan, one of the settlers in Intkheri.
“It is apparently hell for farmers in Kerala. You do not get laborers to reap your crops. The unions will not allow you to do the work yourself!” said Parukkutty, who had “learnt” this from a neighbor who had recently visited the state.