Twenty-two Dalit families of Repurpatana village under Tirtol police limits are living in constant fear after the upper castes allegedly ostracised them by barring them from shops, temples and even farmlands.
The situation worsened on Tuesday when upper-caste men restrained Dalit men Bhanj Kishore Sethy and Prafulla Sethy from entering their land for sowing and transplantation of paddy crop and attacked a tractor driver who was on his way to plough his paddy field.
The dispute started in February when some upper caste men allegedly assaulted Dalits of Repurpatana for visiting Lord Shiva temple. Ironically, the Dalits had contributed money as well as labour for the construction of the very temple. On completion of the temple, upper-caste families of Khetrabasi Swain, Ranjan Swain, Abhay Swain and others prohibited them from performing puja.
After police inaction in the initial days, the harassed Dalits knocked the doors of the administration on July 11 and lodged an FIR on July 17. Nearly 20 days after the filing of FIR, no action has been taken and the 22 families are still dependent on neighbouring villages for even their basic necessities, said Kailash Sethy, one of the ostracised persons.
“We are restrained from using village pond water, purchasing medicine and ration from local shops,” he said. Even taking bath in the local pond has become risky, particularly for women, as upper-caste men pass casteist remarks, said Sebati Sethy and Mamata Sethy.
Earlier, president of Phule Ambedkar Smajik Bikash Parishad Madhebndra Gochyat had sought the intervention of Jagatsinghpur Collector but that too failed to yield result, Kailash said.
Tirtol Sub-divisional Police Officer Deepak Ranjan Jena said a meeting called between Dalit and upper-caste yielded no result as the latter demanded the withdrawal of police case first. Another meeting has been called on Friday to resolve the issue and restore normalcy in this village, Jena said.