Economic boycott, house burning forcing to desert the village to Basanti Bhoi and others in Puri district (Code: OD-18-05-2021, Date: 13-Feb-2021 )

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Case Title

Case primary details

Case posted by Ambedkar Lohia Vichar Manch
Case code OD-18-05-2021
Case year 13-Feb-2021
Type of atrocity Other Crimes Against SCs
Whether the case is being followed in the court or not? No

Fact Finding

Fact finding date

Fact finding date Not recorded

Case Incident

Case Incident details

Case incident date 18-May-2021
Place Village: Not recorded
Taluka:Not recorded
District: Puri District(DP)
State: Odisha
Police station K. Prasad
Complaint date 11-May-2021
FIR date 11-May-2021

Case brief

Case summary

Berhampu villagae is situated in Chilka lake under Krushnaprasad Block. The village is also a Gram Panchayat. The people in the village are mostly educated with a literacy rate of 93% (as per Census-2011) much above the State literacy rate of 72%. Prime livelihood means of the people here is fishing in Chilka. Almost all families are cofortable from economic standard. Most of its inhabitants (nearly 81%) are Scheduled Castes. Caste wise segregation shows majority families of total 400 families belong to Khatia Sub Caste; other families consist of 5 Brahmin HH, 10 Mali HH, 8 Rajaka (Dhoba) HH and 48 Bhoi (Bauri) HH.The Khatia community are the power centre of the village, other castes do not have any influence in the decision making.

The Bhois are forced to perform the customary service of carrying the palamquin of the bride and bride groom during marriages; the Rajakas are to carry the torch (Dihudi) in the front. By the year 2000, six Rajaka families left the village to other places leaving behind their property, in order to escape providing the customary service. Remaining two Rajaka families are continuing to serve the Khatias. By 2013, the Bhois declared not to continue the customary service and stopped carrying the palanquin. They gave a written letter to Sri Damodar Jena, the then village president. Other members of Berhampur village committe at that time were Lingaraj Jena, Secretary, Biranchi Narayan Jena, Member, Nari Jana, Clerk. There was social boycott on the Bhois by the Khatias after 2013 decision.; the Bhois were not given any labour work, they were barred to catch fish in Chilka, the ghat was also banned for them. The strategy adopted by the Bhois to counter the pressure was to employment outside the village. Nearly 70 youths including 20-30 women/ young girls could get engaged in different citie like Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Kolkata and in the States of Kerala and Maharastra while the social boycott continued till 2017. After 2017 the situation got slightly better and the Bhois were given work by other villagers.

On 17.1.2021 some youths from the Bhoisahi were catching fish with Bansi string. They were abused, assaulted and their fishing rods were taken by the Khatias. In the evening there was a village meeting and the Bhois were informed about the four restictions as under:

  • They were banned to use the village road to Berhampur
  • Any sort of procession / marriage procession by the Bhois were forbidden
  • They were denied taking water from the well near the temple; if flouted, a fine of Rs.5000/- was to be paid by them
  • They cannot catch fish or crabs in Chilka

 

Despite such humiliating terms, the Bhois stayed on in the village. On 13.2.2021 in the evening, there was an incident of hited exchanges between one Akash Pahan and Pallab Jena over purcahse of Bombay Sweets sold by a vendor. Akash was assaulted. Later his father Bhramar Pahan and brothers whn asked Rabi Jena why did they assaulted Akash, there was mass attack on them; they were assaulted and got injured. During the clash between the groups stones were thown and Basudev Bhagabat ghar of the Bhois was destroyed. Allegedly therewas some damges of the properties of the Khatias.

By 9 Pm of 13.2.2021 the Khatias held village committee meeting and strict economic boycott was imposed on the Bhois; even the ghat was banned restricting their movement to and out of the village. On 14.2.2021, the Bhois begged apology falling at their feet. After much request the Khatias said that the issue shall be settled within 3 days. The Bhois went to Krushnaprasad PS on 17.2.2021 as the boycott continued. They gave written complaint. The IIC disuaded registration of FIR as the Khatias are majority community and assured amicably settling the issue. The Bhois met the Superintendent of Police, Puri and submitted a petition on 2.3.2021 as ther was no headway for settlement.

On 3.3.2021, the Tahasildar, Krushnaprasad and the IIC, Krushnaprasad visited Berhampur. They had preliminary discussion with the Khatias and them called the Bhois. Four representatives namely, Sangram Pahan, Abhimanyu Pahan, Bulu Pahan and Niranjan Pahan went to the meeting. They were abused by the Khatias in presence of the officers. After little discussion the Khatias were asked by the officers to withdraw the boycott and bring back normalcy. They said that they can say anything after discussing the matter in full village meeting which they would do within 7 days. The Bhois asked the police for a solution; there was none.

Complete economic boycott was imposed on the Bhois after 13.2.2021; to tighten the boycott, they were denied pursuing fishing and boating activities. The Bhois submitted petitions before the district administration at differenet times; but the matter was not resolved. The condition of Bhois detoriorated with time. Hence, they decided to desert the island village and shift to mainland so that there will option of resorting to alternative livelihood means. On 24.4.2021, in desperation the Bhois took the altimate decision and left the village with all their movable belongings and from child to aged (215 members) and camped temporarily at Nathpur village under Brahmagiri PS. The issue was highlighted in the media.

On 8.5. 2021, the Bhois learnt that some of their houses at Berhampur are on fire. They managed to go to see their burnt houses. A written complaint was filed by Basanti Bhoi basing on which Krushnaprasad PS Case no 51 was registered on 11.5.2021 under Sections 153A, 436, 34 IPC.                       

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