Ballari: Nomadic camel herders from Maharashtra, who perform with the animals for a living, were mistaken for slaughterers by the local police and the camels taken into custody when they arrived to showcase their talent at the Hampi Utsav this year.
Recounting the incident, Prof. KM Metri, who specialises in tribal studies at the Kannada University, Hampi, told the Deccan Chronicle that the Hampi district administration, which held the two-day utsav in March, had requested the Vijayashri Heritage organisation to hold a camel show on the occasion.
In response, Mr Raju Bhurat of Vijayashri Heritage contacted a camel artistes troupe from Maharashtra, and paid it Rs 40,000 in advance for the show. But as the nomadic families came to Hampi a day late for the festival due to transportation problems, they were not paid the rest of the promised amount and could not return home, he said.
They began to roam the towns in the region, performing with their camels to earn a living till August, but some locals took pictures of the animals on their mobile phones and sent them to Member of Parliament, Maneka Gandhi, who is an animal rights activist and on her orders,, the local police confiscated all nine camels and sent them to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Zoological Park in Kamalapura near Hampi, according to Prof. Metri “We wandered around with our camels for a livelihood. But they were taken into custody although we produced all the relevant papers to show that we were in legal possession of them," said Ms Shaila Kharath, a member of the troupe .
When Prof Metri and local nomadic organisations came to know of the troupe's plight, they contacted the district administration and personally took the responsibility of sending the camels and its members back to Maharashtra.
Mr Mallikarjun Manpade, president of the Karnataka Nomadic Youth Association, now wants the authorities to investigate the "fraud" by the middlemen, who did not pay the nomadic artistes their dues on their arrival in Hampi....