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Footballer on hunger strike against ‘torture’

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 27: A national-level rugby and football player employed with the state forest department today sat on a hunger strike on the Mahatma Gandhi Marg to protest against harassment by senior officers.

She alleged that her seniors had been torturing her physically and mentally ever since she raised her voice against irregularities at her workplace.

Subhalaxmi Barik, 24, who is posted as a forest guard at Bhashma Hi-tech Nursery of Sambalpur Research Range for the past 10 months, said that even though the forest and environment minister had asked forest officials to transfer her to a place where she could participate in sporting events, they did not pay heed.

Barik, who had brought the allegations on October 26 here against her seniors, said today that after the allegation, the authorities had sought an explanation from her.

“They sought explanation from me within 15 days, to which I gave my replies accordingly. Then they said I would be transferred to the place I liked. Even though I told them that I wanted to work in Bhubaneswar, where I could participate in sporting events more than a month ago, the authorities have not intimated me about further action,” said the sportswoman.

Her father, Lingaraj Barik, complained that though they had gone to the secretariat to meet the chief minister, they could not meet him, as he was not in the city today.

“After being told about the matter, the joint secretary to the chief minister called the assistant conservator of forest concerned to ask about the matter, but could not help us in any way. He told us to come some other day to meet the chief minister,” said Lingaraj.

Principal chief conservator of forests P.N. Padhi said he was not aware of her complaints.

“The girl should approach me and I will sort out her problems. It is not proper on the part of a government employee to sit on hunger strike. I am asking my officials to find out about the details.”