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Cousin brothers serving armed forces ostracised in Odisha for inter-caste marriage

One of them moves the NHRC seeking its intervention to lift the boycott order

January 24, 2023 09:09 am | Updated January 26, 2023 10:12 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Two cousin brothers serving as Indian Air Force and Navy officers are capable enough to face any challenge posed by enemies, but they have failed to withstand the rigid caste system back home in Odisha’s Ganjam district.

The brothers have become enemies of their own caste after they mustered courage to tie nuptial knot outside their caste. Faced with ‘punishment’ of family ostracisation by their caste group, the two brothers are unable to get the ban revoked.

Even intervention by the local Minister, the Ganjam district administration and the police failed to make the caste group budge from its stand.

The incident took place in Kalamba village under the Polsara police station of Ganjam district. Arbind Kumar Pradhan, an IAF non-commissioned officer, and Binay Kumar Pradhan, an Indian Navy Petty Officer, recently got married. Though belong to Balasi caste, their marriage took place in Khandayat caste.

The Rajashree Balasi Samaj, the caste group of Pradhan brothers, took cognisance of the matter.

“On March 25, my caste group known as Kula Samaj called me and my family to their office room. We were castigated for the marriage outside caste. After hours-long discussions in late night, we were handed out penalty of ostracisation,” said the IAF Officer, who on Monday moved the National Human Rights Commission seeking its intervention.

Mental agony

Mr. Arbind Kumar Pradhan said, “during past one year, none of our relatives are visiting us and we are not even invited to attend marriage or death rituals. My family members are suffering from tremendous mental agony.”

“Following the ostracisation order by our Kula Samaj, I had filed a case in the police station and sought intervention of the district administration. They had in fact intervened. But all efforts had gone in vain. The boycott order is still in vogue,” he said.

The two brothers have been regularly travelling hundreds of kilometres to Odisha to lift the boycott order. However, their caste group is unyielding.  

The caste groups have become extremely powerful in Ganjam, the home district of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Office-bearers have been wielding enormous powers intruding into the private affairs of families. If anyone raises voice against the diktat, his or her family faces social ostracisation. The district police find it difficult to rein in the caste samajs which enjoy huge political clout.  

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