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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Completely rattled by the pandemic and a subsequent lockdown along with Covid-induced restrictions, the Jatra artistes have now hit the streets seeking revival of the industry.

Led by popular Jatra actress Rani Panda, the association members staged a demonstration at the Lower PMG in Bhubaneswar demanding the State government to allow resumption of opera shows citing that they have been jobless for the last seven months ever since the lockdown was enforced.

"This is just a trailer, the real picture will come to the fore soon if our demands are not met. We have lost patience now. We gave enough time to the government. I sincerely request Odisha CM to look into our plights," said Panda.

"We were silent all this while because of the Covid restrictions but saw all the limitations are only for common people. The government can organise rallies, melody shows and spends crores during elections. But there is no facility for us (artistes). Is the law different for different people? This is unfortunate, we won't remain silent anymore. If they don't pay any heed to our demands, we will be forced to commit suicide," threatened a member of the association.

Senior Congress leader Sura Routray who has joined them in the protest said, "They (artistes) are not demanding money, rice, dal or potato. The government organised melody function during by-poll campaigning in Balasore Sadar and Tirtol assembly constituencies, allowed hotels, restaurants, bars, liquor outlets to open; almost all activities have been unlocked. Now it's time to allow these Jatra artistes to hold shows at various places. Cultural programmes should be allowed because that's their primary means of livelihood."

We urge the government to consider their genuine demands, said Routray.

https://youtu.be/OBQ_volsnZ8

Many Jatra and melody artistes turned to other sources of income like fruit-selling and vegetable vending after lockdown hit their occupation hard.

Battered By Covid Crisis, Melody Artistes In Odisha Plead For Financial Aid From Govt

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