NHRC Moved Against Practice Of Social Boycott In Odisha’s Ganjam District

Bhubaneswar: With the incidents of social boycott and ostracisation being reported regularly from Odisha’s Ganjam district, a human rights activist has sought the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to direct the state and district authorities to take legal steps to curb the social evils.

In his petition to the NHRC, Rabindra Mishra, human rights defender from Berhampur city of Ganjam, has stated that despite constitutional abolition of caste system, social ostracisation continues to be prevalent in the country. As a result, the so called ‘outcasts’ have been barred from attending social functions, sharing water, food and shelter and forced to live outside the villages.

“Social boycott is a collective act of refusal by society to involve a person in the commercial and social relations with the objective to force the individual to voluntarily leave the society. Ostracism is a more evil practice. It refers to a forcible expulsion of a person from society and is often accompanied by the confiscation of property,” said Mishra.

He further said social boycott and ostracisation lead to inequality wherein different individuals are treated differently, on the basis of their caste, which violates Article 14, 15, 19, & 21 of the Indian Constitution. This tantamounts to social discrimination, especially in the context of Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth).

Citing an example of human rights violation in Ganjam, he said Prabhanjan Pradhan, a professor in a Mumbai college, had returned to his home at Purusottampur. But his family was ostracised by the All Odisha Banayat Odia Samaj (AOBOS), a Ganjam-­based caste group, or ‘Kula Samaj’, as it is called locally.

In 2016, upto 39 social boycott diktats were issued by the AOBOS in the Polasara region comprising parts of Beguniapada, Polasara, Kabisuryanagar and Buguda.

On January 28, 2019, the Orissa High Court had directed the state government to take immediate steps to curb the practice of social boycott and ostracism. But no step has been taken to bring social reforms in our society, said Mishta.

“With a view to curtail the incidents of social boycott and ostracism in the rural areas of Ganjam, the district administration has taken up massive awareness campaigns at various places. But there has been no proper implementation without stringent law and order and policy regulations as per the demand of our society,” he said.

Considering the prevalent evil social practices in the district, Mishra appealed to the NHRC to direct the state and district authorities to take legal steps to curb those for a better, greater and sustainable society.

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