CUTTACK: At a time when matrimonial disputes and cases of domestic violence cases are on the rise, Narottam Das is on the mission to heal hearts. This year alone, the 37-year-old resident of Choudwar has settled around 170 cases of matrimonial disputes - mostly in poor families - across Odisha. He does not charge a penny from the families or couples for counselling them.
During the Covid-19 lockdowns and shutdowns, he received and settled around 100 disputes including domestic violence. “Family and matrimonial disputes mainly arise out of the financial crisis and unemployment. Though we cannot address the primary reasons behind such disputes, counselling the families helps to a large extent in settling the problems,” said Das who has obtained degrees in education and law.
After completing his MEd degree, he joined as a lecturer in the District Institute of Education and Training at Dolipur in Jajpur. However, he quit the government job in 2015 and joined as a para legal volunteer with the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) at Cuttack. Since then, he has been working as a family counsellor and started his voluntary organisation Udhar Foundation to look into such cases.
“Breaking a relationship or a family is an easy job but keeping them together is an arduous task. The need for counselling to resolve family disputes is still an alien concept for people from poor socio-economic backgrounds. When we come across such cases, we reach out to them for counselling. Except for a few cases, our counselling has helped a large number of families and couples who have agreed to leave their disputes behind and live together”, he said.
Annually, Das receives around 200 applications of matrimonial disputes and domestic violence cases through police and family courts for counselling. In the last six years, he has successfully settled over 1,000 matrimonial disputes and 700 cases of domestic violence.
“Our aim has been to settle disputes amicably and gradually through regular counselling sessions. There are times when we do face challenges in handling interpersonal grievances but we have managed to reconcile many clashing couples and save families”, he said.
For his efforts, Das has been awarded by different organisations and Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal. Das and members of his Udhar Foundation have also been looking into preventing child labour and child marriages. His organisation currently has 60 volunteers who assist him in counselling.