A couple with their two-year-old girl from Behera village of Bargarh district, around 400 km from Bhubaneswar, on Saturday reached Bhubaneswar by walking to meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and urge him to ban manufacturing and sale of liquor in the state. But they couldn’t meet Naveen on Saturday. The dalit couple Gour Bhosagar, 45,...
A couple with their two-year-old girl from Behera village of Bargarh district, around 400 km from Bhubaneswar, on Saturday reached Bhubaneswar by walking to meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and urge him to ban manufacturing and sale of liquor in the state. But they couldn’t meet Naveen on Saturday.
The dalit couple Gour Bhosagar, 45, and wife Sibani, 32, of Behera village under Khuntapalli panchayat in the district took this step after staff of the excise department allegedly raided their house on the basis of a false allegation. When the district administration didn’t pay heed to their request, they started their padyatra (journey) to meet Naveen and tell him their ordeal.
Sibani, a former Naib Sarpanch of her panchayat, said she was targeted by liquor mafias for her constant support to anti-liquor movement. “One of the mafias passed false information to the excise officials that we are selling liquor in our house. The officials on June 9 entered into my house when Gour was not present. They vandalized my house and misbehaved with me,” she added.
The couple at first failed to understand the motive of the raid. “It’s really very surprising that the excise officials raided the house of the person who have been opposing sale and manufacturing of liquor in his panchayat,” said Bhosagar.
The couple requested the district collector and SP to help them, but in vain. When they didn’t get any response from the district administration, the couple decided to meet Naveen and tell him about their problems. As a mark of protest, they decided to reach Bhubaneswar by walking.
They started their journey on June 14 and reached the capital on Saturday via Bargarh, Sambalpur, Rairakhol, Angul, Dhenkanal and Cuttack. “During our journey from western part of the state to coastal Odisha, I got support from several organisations and activists for my cause. I realized that people are not happy with mushrooming of liquor shops in rural areas,” said Bhosagar.
Prohibitionists welcomed the couple at the lower PMG here and sat on dharna there. With the help of the police, they met excise minister Shashi Bhusan Behera and apprised him about their suffering. The minister assured them of help.
Later, they started walking towards Naveen Niwas, chief minister’s residence, to meet Naveen. The police detained the duo and took them to chief minister’s office. But they couldn’t meet Naveen and returned from the office with heavy heart. “[The] chief minister has no time for poor people like us,” lamented Goura.