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Odisha BDO accused of abusing migrants

Returnees had expressed displeasure over the arrangements at the quarantine centre

By Subhashish Mohanty in Bhubaneswar
  • Published 15.05.20, 4:47 AM
  • Updated 15.05.20, 5:52 PM
  • a min read
Migrants, stranded in different parts of Gujarat, arrive to board a special train to Odisha during the nationwide lockdown, imposed in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, at a railway station in Ahmedabad on May 9, 2020. (PTI)

The Odisha government on Thursday initiated a probe against an Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) officer for her alleged misbehaviour with migrant labourers who had reached the state from Gujarat.

The OAS officer, who is at present working as block development officer (BDO) at Baliapal block in Balasore district, reportedly misbehaved with some returnees after they expressed displeasure over the arrangements at the quarantine centre.

The problem cropped up after the migrant labourers reached the block office premises on Wednesday and pleaded for food and water while waiting to be shifted to the quarantine centre. BDO Chhabi Rani Sahoo suddenly lost her temper and started abusing the returnees accusing them of being indisciplined.

In a video that has since gone viral, she is seen shouting “I am an OAS officer. I am not working as a bonded labourer like you. Shut your mouths. By coming back to Odisha, you have increased our problems. Now all of you are shouting. Shut up. Stay within your limits. Even your forefathers will have to stay here.”

Soon after the video went viral people from across the state condemned the attitude of the officer. Balasore MP and Union minister Pratap Sarangi tweeted, “A red carpet welcome to the returnees at the railway station and inhuman treatment to them by a BDO. Naveenji there should be a fair investigation and strict action against the guilty. Arrogance and inhumanity at its height! A lady OAS officer, BDO of Baliapal, Balasore in charge of Quarantine Centre throwing tantrum at the inmates when requested for drinking water. What a contrast?”

Panchayati Raj department asked the Balasore collector to launch a probe into the incident.

BDO Sahoo told reporters: “After they reached here from Gujarat, I asked them to come to the block premises. But they engaged in an argument with me over a petty issue. They also misbehaved and humiliated me. Out of anger and frustration, I said a few words against them but there was no bad intention behind it. But they are using it against me. I am thinking of taking recourse to law.”