Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Distressed by official apathy they will observe Day of National Shame at Bhubaneswar on 17th of this month.
They are members of Orissa Gotimukti Andolan, a movement for liberation of bonded laborers.
Their leader Baghambar Pattanayak has recently been released from the high security central jail at Jharapada, Bhubaneswar where he was arbitrarily imprisoned for 110 days. He was sent into the jail without any established charge. He was freed sans any condition.
Wonder, why then he was in the jail? He was jailed because he spearheaded protests against racial exploitation of Barbers by the upper caste people of Puri district.
In our view, Patnaiks incarceration was a matter of shame for the whole of our Republic.
As mismanagement of process of law in this case was impossible to continue any further, Sri Patnaik was set free. But torture has not stopped in respect of the Barbers who are continuing to be treated as bonded laborers.
The State Government has been inventing ever newer tactics to perpetuate their exploitation. Starting from the District to the Secretariat, the explanations, which the functionaries give on why the barbers are not protected, usually veer around social tradition.
Why this Government is showing this temperament? It has a religio-political reason.
The first follower of Lord Buddha Upali, was a barber belonging to the Masters birth place, Kapilavastu, presently Kapileswar near Bhubaneswar, as proved by Chakradhar Mohapatra, in his enlightening work The Real Birthplace of Buddha. Hence agents of Vedic imperialism, after occupying Orissa, have not only desecrated and destroyed innumerable Buddhist shrines in Orissa, but also, since then, subjected the Barbers to social slavery that compels them to carry out the most humiliating service of washing the feet as well as cleaning the orts of visiting guests of upper caste people in Orissa, specifically in the areas dominated by Brahminism.
Political outfit of Brahminism, the BJP, is in power in Orissa in coalition with BJD. But the two most relevant portfolios, Revenue as well as Law, are under the BJP Ministers. This very fact is helping the racists to harass the Barbers. Their women folks have been outraged, elders have been butchered, earning males have been driven out of their villages, and properties looted and houses burnt down.
And the Government of Orissa has been enjoying their predicament.
In protest against this the Liberation Movement has called upon to observe a Day of National Shame at the Capital City of Bhubaneswar on 17th this month.
Disclosing this to the Press, leaders of the Movement have declared that if the 17th protest fails to wake up the conscience of the Government, from 17th of April, 2006, stronger protests like sitting-in demonstrations would be offered in front of the residence of the Chief Minister till at least the Law for liberation of Bonded Laborers is implemented, to implement which the Chief Minister is ordained by the Constitution of India.
Besides Baghambar Patnaik, convener of the Movement Ms. Swati Sucharita and activists Jalandhar Barik, Sheshadev Subuddhi including advisor Bibhu Pr. Tripathi addressed the Press.