What would you do when someone forcibly asks you not to talk with anybody even your neighbours? In the age of social media where there is a lot of debate over freedom of speech, there are places in Odisha where people are being ostracised and not allowed to speak with neighbours as well.
‘Kangaroo courts’ rule the roost in several parts of the state. Here we are talking about two separate incidents in which two families were ostracised by local villagers and committees in Ganjam and Jagatsinghpur districts.
In the first incident, the family of Adwait Sahu is facing humiliation after they have allegedly been ostracised for the past six years in Patapur village under Kujang Police limits of Jagatsinghpur district. The family has been penalised for not attending village-level meetings.
Following instructions from the village head, no villager including Sahu’s neighbours is on talking terms with the family. Others in the village are also forced to obey such instructions else, a fine of Rs 5,000 will be slapped for talking to the family.
Sahu has brought the matter to the notice of the local tehsildar. However, the village head has refuted such allegations.
“It is now almost five to six years that we have been facing problems without any fault. Even my children are unable to go to tuition. My neighbours have been warned not to talk to us else they will be fined Rs 5,000,” alleged Sahu.
Village head, Pahili Nayak said, “We have not opposed anyone and there is no reason for boycotting anyone.”
The second incident has been reported from Ganjam district. The family of Narottam Swain is now completely isolated and no article is being provided to them from the ration shops at Kandia village under Kodala Police limits. The family has been penalised for opposing the construction of a village building in front of their house.
The village committee, through traditional announcement systems, has announced to collect a fine of Rs 501 if anyone is found interacting or talking with Swain’s family members.
“By beating drums, the village officials have warned to collect Rs 501 for violating the rule for the first time and Rs 5,000 for a subsequent violation. Nobody is talking with us and we are not getting any facilities here,” said Panchanan Swain, a family member.
Even the rule also applies to Swain’s son-in-law who also stays in the same family. The village committee member has refuted such allegations.
Rajib Jena, a village committee member said, “The family had created problems in some auspicious work. There is no compulsion on anyone, but we are not talking with them. They have not been boycotted.”
Southern Range Inspector General of Police (IGP) Satyabrata Bhoi stated that the matter will be dealt with seriously.
“Our efforts are to completely wipe out these practices by creating awareness as well as by taking appropriate action as per law. We have already resolved 30 such incidents,” said Bhoi.