Attappady Hamlet’s Tryst with Democracy

For the first time in Attappady’s history, a tribal chieftain was elected through the democratic process on Sunday. K K Balakrishnan was elected as the chief (Oorumooppan in local parlance) of the Kavundikkal hamlet of Irula tribespeople after a meeting of the entire hamlet convened by a senior revenue official.

The post had been vacant for the last 20 years, though unofficially many tribal leaders had held it for short durations.

A daily wage worker, Balakrishnan (48) will be taking on the role once carried out by people like Kiluya Moopan, one of the most renowned and respected chieftains of the region.

The election was organised by P B Nooh, Sub-Collector of Ottappalam who during his visit to the Kavundikkal hamlet had found that the post of chieftain was vacant. According to Nooh, the people in Attappady regard their chief akin to a king.


“As far as Attappady is concerned, all the 192 hamlets have their own tribal chieftains who enjoy enormous power and influence over the community. They are part of a forum called Moopan Council, which assists the government in implementing various welfare schemes,” Nooh was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

He said that the Moopan Council would attain more strength in days to come and this would ensure better coordination between the government and tribespeople in implementing welfare schemes.