Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

baghambarMr Baghambar Pattanayak, the suave social activist of Puri is in Jharapada Special Jail at Bhubaneswar since 04October 05.

He is jailed not for any economic or criminal offence; but because he headed a protest rally against social slavery in the Capital City of the State. The rally was not an impromptu occurrence. Government had been duly notified of it and in appropriate manner. Instead of heeding to a just and humanitarian cause, police was used to demoralize the protestors by engineering imprisonment of their leader. Pattanayak is happy that he has dared the jail in the cause of social justice. But by sending him to Jail the State Administration is caught in flagrante delicto in supporting a social evil like slavery.

Visitors of this portal are acquainted with Sri Pattanayak’s campaign against upper caste oppression let loose on members of the barber caste in specifically the district of Puri. Government is well aware of the fact that 82 families of barbers in 17 villages of Puri district are being socially and economically boycotted by the upper castes after their refusal to continue the age old practice of washing feet and cleaning up the ort in public functions and other inhuman and degrading traditions. Our report dated 24 August 05 would remind you of how convincingly the human rights activists under leadership of Sri Pattanayak had put forth the grievances of the disadvantaged barbers vis-a-vis the constitutional framework for eradication of bonded labor in this particular sector.

The District administration having no inclination to heed to it, upper caste hoodlums who are bent upon to perpetuate this slavery could contrive a new method of torture designed to frighten up the agitators to such an extent that they would think a thousand times before raising their voice against the oppression in future.

They jumped on their women folk and denuded four of them; assaulted and paraded them in that wretched condition under the scorching sun to the dastardly amusement of the perpetrators of caste superiority in the village of Bhubanpati under Brahmagiri Police Station of Puri on 19 September 2005. Profusely covered by media, this heinous assault on human rights rocked the entire State, but the State Government remained recalcitrant.

Perpetrators of this crime have so much confidence in the collaboration of the State, that they have got united under the banner of Kshyatriya Khandayat Mahasabha and resolved to thwart any attempt that they would find inconvenient to their social tradition of using barbers for feet-washing and ort cleaning. It is a shame that the Government has not yet thought it prudent to take these asserters to task even though their resolution is designed to precipitate social violence.

In such a State, under such an administration, what else could have happened to Sri Pattanayak than incarceration for championing the cause of the oppressed?