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HC orders bartan inquiry

Cuttack, Dec. 15: Orissa High Court has directed the collector of Kendrapara to conduct an inquiry on the alleged prevalence of bonded labour system in the guise of the custom of bartan in Mahakalpada area of the district.

It has also directed the court to ensure immediate release of the 11 “victim families”.

While disposing of a public interest litigation yesterday, the division bench of Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mohapatra further directed the collector to provide relief to the victims and take preventive measures against the practice of bartan, which had already been banned by the Odisha government.

On February 17, 2011, the Odisha government had issued a notification abolishing the practice of extracting work from the barbers and washermen by upper caste families in Odisha by paying only 15kg of paddy for the whole year under the customary bartan system.

Baghambar Pattanaik, an adviser to the Odisha Goti Mukti Andolan, filed the PIL and pleaded the case in person.