Strike makes groom walk 14km in Odisha
A drivers’ strike in Odisha forced a groom and the baratis to walk nearly 14km to reach the bride’s house before the agitation was suspended on Friday evening.
The incident took place at Kalyansinghpur block in the tribal-dominated Rayagada district in southern Odisha.
The marriage was solemnised on Friday morning.
The couple will leave the bride’s village on foot in the evening.
The 22-year-old groom, Naresh Parska, told The Telegraph: “My marriage was fixed two months back. We have no idea about the strike. My family had booked four vehicles and made all the arrangements accordingly. Since no vehicles were plying because of the drivers’ strike we decided to walk to the bride’s house. We left Parthibeda village around 7pm on Thursday.”
He added: “We reached bride Rami Hikaka’s village Dibalpadu around 2am and went to sleep. The marriage was solemnised on Friday morning. We will leave for our village in the evening.”
The entire walk had been videographed. Local sarpanch Sanjay Nishika said: “In our tribal (Kandha tradition), the groom cannot go alone to the wedding venue. He has to go along with the baratis. That’s the reason why the groom along with other baratis decided to walk to the bride’s village, covering the entire distance on foot. Being the head of the panchayat, I was also part of the barat.”
“The wedding feast is going on along with tribal dance, and the celebrations will continue till the evening,” the sarpanch said.
Chief secretary P.K. Jena met members of the Odisha Drivers’ Association and assured them that their 10-charter of demands, including social security, would be considered sympathetically and their issues would be resolved within three months.
Minister for commerce and transport Tukuni Sahu made a statement on the issue in the Odisha Assembly and appealed to the drivers to withdraw the strike. However, the association refused to back down.
The drivers resorted to a sit-in and continued with road blockades in different parts of the state. Long queues were seen outside petrol pumps across the state. Many petrol pumps went dry due to a short supply of petrol from the depots.
General secretary of Ukal Petroleum Dealers’ Association, Sanjay Lath, said: “People should not go on a buying spree. On a normal day, 3.3 lakh litres of petrol are sold. But on Thursday, more than 8 lakh litres of petrol were sold. We are hopeful of things becoming normal soon.”
The Odisha Drivers’ Association on Friday evening announced that it was suspending its ongoing strike following a written assurance from the state government.
President of Odisha Drivers’ Mahasangaha, Prashant Menduli, said: “Following a written assurance from the government that the demands of the drivers will be met within three months, we have decided to suspend the agitation.”
He urged all the agitating drivers to resume work.