| Sudarshan Biswal protests against the state government’s rice scheme on Sachivalaya Marg in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. Telegraph picture |
Bhubaneswar, Feb. 20: The artist painted his body green and stuck grains all over to protest against the government’s Re 1 per kg rice scheme that was making people “lazy”.
When cops detained him near the secretariat, he was struck by their insensitivity. After all, this was his home. Not only that, he had also performed street plays to create awareness among police about crimes against women.
Sudarshan Biswal, 35, who hails from Kakatpur in Puri and is based in Delhi, was demonstrating with a traditional plough and a set of farming equipment when he was taken into police custody.
He said he had used art as a medium to create awareness on several occasions in different parts of the country but this was the first time that he had been detained by the cops, that too in his own state capital.
After spending almost an hour in Capital police station, he was released after his friends submitted a written statement that he would not repeat such an act.
“I was walking down Sachivalay Marg with my body painted and tied to a plough. Some media persons gathered to ask about my motive. Within minutes, some cops came and dragged me into their jeep. Had the media persons not intervened, the police would have detained me for longer,” said the artist, who has a masters’ degree in visual arts from the Faculty of Fine Arts under the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda.
He criticised the government’s cheap rice scheme, stating that “political gimmicks” such as this had made the people of Odisha lazy. The state government had launched the Re 1 per kg rice scheme on February 2, before which it was Rs 2 per kg rice.
“I visited my village recently and found agricultural land lying unused. Upon enquiring, I found the state government’s cheap rice scheme was responsible for it. My family’s main source of income was agriculture but they gradually gave it up as there is a dearth of people to work in the fields,” said the artist, adding that this change forced him to stage the “unconventional” protest and raise awareness among people.
He said his only goal was to warn the people of Odisha against “nasty political games”.
Officials said Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code had been clamped on Sachivalay Marg as the Assembly session was in progress and thus, people were not allowed to hold any kind of protests there.