Odissi Guru Mayadhar Raut’s Eviction From Govt Accommodation Sparks Outrage

New Delhi: Mayadhar Raut, an Odissi maestro and a Padma Shri awardee, was forced on to the streets of Delhi after being evicted from his government accommodation in the Asian Games village on Tuesday.

Visuals of the frail 90-year-old Odia guru holding a walking stick outside his residence, with his belongings strewn all around, have been all over social media, triggering a backlash.

Raut’s government accommodation was cancelled in 2014, but eviction notice was served in 2020. The Padma Shri awardee and a group of allottees — including the late Birju Maharaj — then moved court.

He lost the case and was given time till April 25 to vacate the house.

His daughter Madhumita Raut said though the eviction wasn’t illegal, the manner in which it was carried out was highly objectionable.

Slamming the Centre for not giving artists due respect, Madhumita claimed the government communicated to artistes about the eviction in 2020 only.

“We are very low on this government’s priority. There’s no cultural policy as well. I am not against the eviction, but the inhumane way it was done. Our belongings were thrown out. Had I not luckily been with my father that day, he might have died,” she told NDTV.

Narrating the ordeal Guru Mayadhar – who suffers from multiple ailments — had to endure, Madhumita said she was serving him food when the bell rang around 1 pm.

“Officials who introduced themselves as eviction officers barged into the house saying they don’t have even two minutes to spare. Immediately, labourers and policemen arrived. They started throwing out his belongings and my father was in a state of shock,” she said.

“I requested them to wait another day as our review petition is listed in the court for next day but they refused,” she said.

“He has served this country all these years, he taught disciples under the guru-shishya tradition and didn’t earn a rupee from his services. He has no property or land anywhere and has just Rs 3,000 in his bank account. How can you just throw him out?” she bemoaned.

Netizens erupted in anger, expressing their utter shock at the heartless way the 90-year-old guru had been thrown out.

Rajya Sabha MP and former CEO of Prasar Bharati (DD, AIR) Jawhar Sircar was scathing in his tweet.

“This is how Modi treats 90 year old legendary Guru Mayadhar Raut. God — shower a few drops of culture on the PM and his thick headed flunkey, Housing Minister !  Just a few drops — like Ganga Jal,” he posted.

Odissi dancer Rahul Acharya said the incident is a black spot in the cultural history of Odisha.

“When cricketers and players who are earning crores from endorsements have been feted like heroes, one of the pioneers of Odissi dance was thrown on the road. The unceremonious way he was treated is uncalled for,” he told The Times of India.

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