The Rayagada police disrupted a rally taken out by the Adivasi and Dalit activists on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9. The police got into a confrontation with the activists claiming they didn’t have the permission to conduct the march.
The activists, however, claimed they had sought permission from the police on August 6 but were denied.
One of the leaders of the march, Madhusudan Sethi, also alleged casteist abuse at the hands of the police and sought to file an FIR against the Rayagada Inspector-in-Charge Rashmi Ranjan Pradhan. A video of the exchange between Sethi and Pradhan has now emerged on Twitter.
The rally sought to bring to attention the governmental apathy towards the cholera outbreak in Kashipur area of the Rayagada district, which has claimed 13 lives in the last one month. A fact-finding survey by the Jan Jagaran Abhiyan and All India Lawyers Association for Justice – Odisha collected details of all the deceased and discovered that among the 13 who have died, 10 were Adivasi and three were Dalit.
The fact-finding report stated, “In 2007, 70 people died due to cholera and in 2010, 30 people died due to water-borne disease in the Kashipur block of Rayagada district. The Rayagada district administration had pledged to make Kashipur, Rayagada ‘epidemic free’ in 2010, but unfortunately, the task is still on paper.”
The activists demanded better medical facilities, clean drinking water and eradication of poverty in the region to prevent yearly outbreak of cholera in Odisha. They also slammed the government for squandering crores of rupees on advertisement while the people in Odisha lacked even basic amenities.
(With inputs from Sana Irshad.)