The forest department has initiated a probe into the entry of a noted vlogger to Edamalakkudi, the remote tribal hamlet in the Idukki district, where no Covid cases have been reported so far. It was found that, on Sunday, the vlogger Sujith Bhaktan had travelled without the permission of the Forest Department and he reached the spot, nearly 100 kilometres away from Kochi, with Idukki MP Dean Kuriakose.
Except for the people’s representatives, no one is allowed to visit the tribal Panchayat, the only one of its kind in the State, without the permission of the forest department. The incident came to the notice after the vlogger shared the pictures and video on social media. The photos of the Congres MP and the vlogger in Edamalakkudi, bordering Tamil Nadu, without wearing a mask are viral on social media.
AIYF Devikulam Constituency Secretary Vimal Raj had filed a complaint with Munnar DySP and the Devikulam sub-collector against the contentious trip flouting norms to enter the village. CPM district secretary KK Jayachandran demanded that a case be registered against the MP and others.
The CPM district leadership also demanded a ban on vlogger Sujith from entering the forests for illegally filming the video and to investigate the previous allegations levelled against Sujith, a vlogger popular for his travel videos. It is alleged that the MP provided an opportunity to capture footage of the protected area and tribal community in Edamalakkudi for the commercial interest of the vlogger. It is also alleged that Sujith, had removed the video, initially titled ‘the trip with the MP’, from his YouTube channel, after the incident became controversial.
The CPM, among others, has accused the MP of gathering on Sunday, the day of the complete lockdown, to inaugurate the construction of a tribal school.
The environmental activists are taking the case as an assault on the tribal community. “The vlogger’s visit to the place and filming their activities are a violation of the rights of the tribals. Moreover, it is an act against their health as the tribal chieftains had decided to ban the entry of outsiders considering the pandemic. Hence we are going to approach the State and National Commission for Scheduled Tribe for the violation of their rights," MN Jayachandran, Chairman of the Prakrithi Samrakshana Vedi, told News18.com. He also alleged that this is part of a hidden agenda to convert the place into a tourist destination.
Meanwhile, Dean Kuriakose, who termed the allegations as politically motivated, said that he went to inaugurate the renovation work of the Government Tribal LP School in Edamalakkudi and that Sujith Bhaktan came at his invitation as he had promised to gift digital equipment for the school.