JHARSUGUDA: A woman of Bhalupatra village under Laikera police limits of the district has become the target of a group of villagers for planting trees on a patch of Government land to earn a living.
Protesting the harassment and demanding justice, Hemlata Patel (49), a widow, started a fast-unto-death in front of the collectorate from Saturday. Hemlata claimed that she had been raising fruit-bearing trees on seven acres Government land near the village for over two decades to earn a living, as she had no resources to fall back on after the death of her husband in 1993. She has raised trees like cashew nuts, guava, orange, mango and jackfruit and is sustaining herself and her aged father-in-law by selling the produce in the local market.
A group of villagers are now using the garden as a crematorium and are burning the trees to harass her, Hemlata claimed. She added that after her pleas to Laikera police, Kolabira Forest Range Office and Kirmira Tehsildar went unheard, she resorted to fast. Even moving the Collector’s grievance cell proved futile, she alleged. “I have been compelled to start fast-unto-death along with my aged father-in-law”, she added.