Who drove out a group of differently-abled roadside vendors, who had been staging a sit-in outside the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) office, last night? This question is now doing the rounds as the family members alleged that the agitating divyangs are untraceable after they were forced out of the agitation site last night.
As per reports, around 10 differently-abled persons were carrying out small businesses in the Market Building area. They alleged that they were evicted by the BMC from the area in 2019 on a written assurance that they would be rehabilitated in a vending zone. As the BMC failed to keep its promise, they started a sit-in in front of the BMC office six days ago and continued their strike seeking rehabilitation.
It is alleged that at around 8 pm on Tuesday, some officials of the BMC and its enforcement team reached the place in two vans and forcibly shifted the agitators from the venue by dragging and pushing them around. Some media persons present at that time tried to know the identities of officials. However, none of them clarified who they were.
The incident took a new twist after the families of the agitators expressed their worries and alleged that they were clueless about the whereabouts of their differently-abled kin after the BMC officials forced them out of the place.
Speaking to the media, a visually challenged person who was looking for his family member, alleged, “About seven to eight divyangs were protesting near the BMC office last night. One of my family members, Bansidhar Pradhan was among them. Some BMC officials came and dragged them away from the protest site. We are clueless about his whereabouts. We have requested the BMC Commissioner to set our kin free.”
He also said that if the BMC fails to ensure the safe return of their kin, they would start a hunger strike near the BMC office.
Another relative of a missing divyang lamented, "The BMC did not fulfil its promise of rehabilitating them at a vending zone. They staged a protest near the BMC office. When they were protesting for their rights, they were removed.”
No reaction was received from the BMC.