Rashmi Rekha Das

In what reflects the ugly state of social discrimination in rural India, at least 85 families from Fasula village under Khallikote block of Ganjam district still continue to battle the misery of ostracization for over 70 years.  

The villagers of Biswakarma Samaj even are oblivious of the reason behind their banishment for so many years. So much so that their children are not allowed to find a match outside their caste.  

In 1950, the group of families of Fasula were asked to pay Rs 400 as penalty to get rid of the tag of ‘ostracisation’. As they failed to pay the amount which was too hefty at that time, they were banished from the society till an indefinite period of time.

What is more surprising is that repeated pleas of the villagers before the District Collector and even the superintendent of police have failed to yield any results.

Asked about the case, Ganjam Superintendent of Police Brijesh Ray has assured that efforts are underway to help the group of families return to the mainstream of society. If anyone objects to it, legal action will be taken against them.”
Rama Maharana, a victim of ostracism, said, “We are not able to solemnise marriage of our children in nearby areas. We have to pay penalty during marriages just because we are banished.”

Surendra Maharana, another villager, rued, “In 1950, a senior person named Banamali Maharana had charged the ostracised villagers to pay Rs 400 to lift the tag of banishment. As our forefathers had failed to deposit the amount, we are still living in exile.”

Despite awareness and several measures by the government, discrimination on the grounds of caste and superstitions continues to prevail in rural pockets of Odisha. 

Recently in yet another instance of caste-based discrimination, a man along with his wife was seen carrying the body of his mother to cremation ground to perform her last rites singlehandedly after villagers refused to offer help citing untouchability. 

As per sources, the son of the deceased, Mukta Paraja, a resident of Bairagi Mutt village under Jeypore block in Koraput district once partook of food in the house of a person belonging to other caste six months ago following which the villagers ostracised the family.  

Similarly, two months ago, the families of two jawans were exiled from society over inter-caste marriage at Polsara Kalamba village in Ganjam district. Families of Arabinda Pradhan and his cousin Binay Pradhan were ostracized from the village and the community for getting married to girls outside their caste.