The arrest of six weavers has spread widespread resentment in the community which has accused the police of slapping false charges against them.
Ulunda Police had arrested six weavers, including president of the weavers’ association Jagannath Meher, on Saturday for staging a blockade. They have been remanded in judicial custody while the police are on the look out for seven others.
Reports said hundreds of weavers, mostly from Chadeipank gram panchayat, have been demanding compensation against their looms and other materials damaged in last year’s flood. They had even submitted a petition to the Birmaharajpur sub-collector over their demands. They have been staging dharnas for the last one year under the banner of Zilla Bunakar Sangh but in vain.
Having failed to move the authorities, the weavers blocked Sonepur-Sambalpur road for about four hours on Saturday paralysing traffic. While they expected administration officials to initiate a dialogue, the police reached the spot and forcibly evicted the weavers besides arresting six of them.
The weavers said floods in the Mahanadi river, last year, destroyed their looms and livelihood option. The administration had even undertaken loss assessment and submitted a report to the State Government. It has been more than a year since then but they are yet to get any compensation against the loss, they rued. The road blockade was an attempt to draw the attention of the administration but instead they were terrorised by the police, they further alleged.