Mrunal Manmay Dash

The proposed mega drinking water project at Bharigada in Kendrapara district witnessed a spectre that was enough to attract attention from all quarters. The family of a youth who died allegedly after his siblings were arrested by the police during the protest, were seen begging for alms to conduct the last rites.

Two sisters-in-law, an equal number of minor children and an elderly woman were forced to beg from door to door in Achyutapur village under Kendrapara’s Rajkanika block following the alleged death by suicide of the sole bread earner of Ravindra Mallick’s family after he failed to free his siblings arrested for raising voice against the drinking water project.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Police in Kendrapara had arrested many agitators including siblings Shankarshan and Anirudh Mallick from the project site where they joined the protest against the mega drinking water project at Bharigada, citing law and order problems, on September 12, 2021.

As per the allegations, their younger sibling Ravindra mallick who worked at a private organisation in Bengaluru committed suicide after failing to secure the release of his brothers from a jail in Bharigada.

The family subsequently came out on the roads to beg, as the remaining bread earners are locked up, to conduct the last rites of Rabindra in their village.

A grieving Geetanjali mallick, the widow of Rabindra said, “He was under tremendous pressure to repay the debts he had incurred for the family. The efforts to seek the release of his brothers only aggravated his mental health. After his demise, we do not even have the money to conduct his last rites as per the Hindu tradition.”

Pradeep Mallick, the Sarpanch of Bharigada said, “The family is going through immense turmoil to stay afloat. The brothers are not involved in any kind of violence. I request the government to conduct a thorough probe into the agitation in which these youths were rounded up.”

The district administration had clamped prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC for a period of two months in three Panchayats to expedite the works on the mega drinking water project.

The police reportedly arrested over 35 members of the Kharosrota Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (KBSS) after they staged a roadblock on August 11.

It is pertinent to mention here that the proposed drinking water project is supposed to be implemented by drawing water from the Kharasrota river. The KBSS has been opposing the mega drinking water project for the last two years.