Dalits face social boycott in Odisha as girl caught plucking flowers

Their ordeal ended following the intervention of police and administration, a police officer said

Caste discrimination
The village comprises over 700 families, of which 40 belong to the Scheduled Caste Naik community, said an official | Representative Photo: PTI

Around 40 Dalit families were subjected to social boycott for over a fortnight after a 15-year-old girl plucked flowers from the garden of an upper-caste man in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district, officials said on Sunday (August 23).

Their ordeal ended following the intervention of police and administration, a police officer said. The incident took place in Kantio Kateni village in Tumusinga police station area, he said.

“The two groups were at loggerheads for a long time due to an old rivalry and it snowballed into a major controversy after the girl plucked flowers from the garden of an upper-caste man,” Tumusinga police station inspector in-charge AK Dungdung said.

The Dalit families were then subjected to social boycott. They were denied ration from a local shop and barred from attending social events, he said.

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Steps were taken to resolve the issue after representatives of the Dalit families approached the police and the district administration a few days ago, sub-collector of Kamakhyanagar sub-division, BP Acharya, said. They also submitted memoranda to the administration and the police, he said.

The village comprises over 700 families, of which 40 belong to the Scheduled Caste Naik community, the official said.

The girl’s father claimed that the Dalit representatives had also tendered an apology following the incident but still they were subjected to the social boycott, he said.

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Sarpanch Pranabandhu Das admitted that the villagers were asked not to communicate with the Dalit families but claimed that the restrictions were limited to only that. He said the matter between the two groups was bound to be resolved in due course of time, adding that members of the majority community did not intend to “invite trouble” keeping in mind the provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Acharya said a peace meeting was held between the two groups in the village in the presence of senior district administration and police officials on Friday and the issue was resolved. Both groups arrived at a compromise forgetting the bitterness of the past and normalcy has been restored in the village, he said.

Dundung said police did not file an FIR over the issue as both sides wanted to arrive at a compromise and sort out the matter.

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