Politics over dadan workers rock Bolangir

Bolangir: After Khariff season starts the dadan season in Bolangir district which has gained notoriety for its abject poverty and suicide by farmers leave aside gory tales of infant sellings. As the khariff comes to an end, the entire district witnesses large exodus of labourers to neighbouring states including Andhra to work there as dadan labourers under most inhospitable conditions often bordering on hell. But this time it is different with the Congress and BJD leaders engaging themselves in verbal duel over dadan workers and dalals.

It was November 11. A special squad of the district police conducted simultaneous raids on several lodges in Kantabanjhi town. The raids yeilded not call girls and dalals but 21 labour contractors from Andhra Pradesh. Two lodge owners too were arrested by the police.

Then November 19. It was 9 O` clock in the morning when the Kantabanjhi MLA and senior Congress leader Santosh Singh Saluja who had given a Bolangir shutdown call came to the local police station with his supporters to oppose the arrests of the contract labourers and the lodge owners. Claiming that the police had arrested the 23 person s illegally Saluja staged dharna inside the police station and demanded that all the accused persons should be released immediately.

Naturally, the Congress MLA and the police came to a face off situation. While Saluja argued that the contractors had valid papers, the police said that though the contractors were registered in Andhra Pradesh, they had no permission from Odisha government. The superintendent of police of Bolangir, Avinash Kumar said that the contractors had no permit to hire dadan wokers from Odisha and hence they were on the wrong side of law. Saluja however argued that the Andhra contractors were not collecting wokers on thier own but they were dependant on the local contractors.

While thousands of dadan workers continue to go to far off places in search of jobs and the administration stands as mute spectator, politicians have started playing politics over the incident. Laments social activist, Sashi Bhushan Purohit,"There are so many laws and regulations to control labour supply but the administration hardly takes any measures to stop the inhuman practice. Though the police occasionally arrests labour contractors, there is no follow up action by the district admiministration resulting in continuation of the practice without any end.

Joining the slanging match, planing and coordination minister A U Singh Deo said that instead of trying to end the practice of dadan wokers going to neighbouring states, politicians should not intervene in such matters. Though Singh Deo did not name Saluja, his reference was obvious and Saluja was in his hit list. Amidst the verbal duel betwen the two leaders, the district administration said that it would constitute a monitoring committe to deal with the problem of dadan workers.