Pradeep Pattanayak

A Dalit family was allegedly tortured for not paying a donation of Rs 500 for puja in Odisha's Kendrapara district.

As per reports, one of the family members was even subjected to a punishment of rubbing his nose in his spit in full public view in a kangaroo court at Tikhiri village under Marshaghai village in Kendrapara district. 

Demanding justice, the castigated youth has lodged a complaint with Marshaghai police station.

As per the complaint of the youth, two villagers had visited his house at 10 pm on April 16 to collect their contribution towards the village deity’s festival. It was when his family members told them that they had already paid their contribution that an altercation broke out. At that time, the Sarpanch with her supporters was standing in front of the house. They joined the two villagers and hurled caste abuses at the family. 

The next evening, a village meeting was convened in the village where it was decided that the family should be ostracised for the previous night’s altercation. 

The villagers provided an option to the youth to evade ostracisation. He was asked to rub his nose in his spit. With no option left to save his family, he did what the villagers asked him to do. 

“Sarpanch, her husband and Samiti member are behind this. To settle a score, they put the villagers up to ostracise us. To avoid the punishment, my father had to apologise even if we hadn’t done any wrongful act. Their handing out punishment did not stop there. They asked me to spit and rub nose. What I want now is justice. I have even registered a complaint with the police,” said the youth. 

A villager, Surendra Das termed the allegation of the youth as baseless. “In the Panchayat election, he was in the fray as a Sarpanch candidate.  But the villagers voted for Chameli to win the election. He had harboured a grudge against us and the recent allegation is just a manifestation of that,” alleged Das. 

When contacted, Sarpanch Chameli Ojha also termed the allegations as baseless and malicious. “We are observing the village deity’s festival with the participation of all the villagers. We never discriminate any caste. Those who have levelled allegation against us have an ulterior motive to malign the reputation of the village and the Panchayat,” said Ojha. 

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