KUTRA (SUNDARGARH): Newly-elected ward member Teleswar Barla has taken shelter in a forest fearing action by fellow villagers after he dared to defy their diktat during the Naib Sarpanch election. Fearing social ostracisation, he has fled to the forest.
A resident of Telendhipa under Panchra gram panchayat of Rajgangpur Assembly segment, about 70 km from Rourkela, Barla was declared member of ward 13 in the recent election.
He was one of the 11 ward members who were to elect a naib sarpanch between Dhaneswar Majhi and Patras Tirkey on March 10. As Barla stayed away from voting under the ‘controversial’ circumstances, Dhaneswar won through lottery as both secured five votes each.
Barla’s move enraged the Telendhipa villagers who, led by former sarpanch of Panchara Kalakar Minz, insisted Barla to vote for Patras. Barla alleged that the unruly Kalakar, who wields power in the village, detained him before voting and when his choicest candidate lost, he was allegedly garlanded with shoes.
Lily Ekka who supported the boycott decision said they had voted for Barla but he betrayed their sentiment by not honouring their collective request in favour of Patras.
While Barla is away in the forest, his wife Basanti and daughter are praying for his safe return. The local church had even turned down the social boycott decision as Barla ‘did not commit
Congress MLA of Rajgangpur Gregory Minz, in whose native village the incident occurred, has also appealed to the villagers to restore normalcy and bury the hatchet.
Kutra IIC Banita Majhi said Barla had been assured of police protection. He said villagers have mellowed down and Barla should now return to the village. She also denied allegation of atrocities against Barla.