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Without a palm and in a hand-to-mouth situation

Eight years on, the 25-year-old from Pipalguda village in Kalahandi district’s Jaipatna block continues to struggle to make ends meet.

Published: 20th July 2021 08:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th July 2021 08:50 AM   |  A+A-

Dialu Nial with his mother Toruni.

Dialu Nial with his mother Toruni. (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: A chill runs down Dialu Nial’s spine as he recalls the fateful night of December 15, 2013 when he had to pay with his right palm because he refused the diktat of a ruthless labour contractor and his henchmen.

Eight years on, the 25-year-old from Pipalguda village in Kalahandi district’s Jaipatna block continues to struggle to make ends meet. Poverty had cost him a palm then. Without one all these years later, it is still a hand-to-mouth survival for him. 

Dialu and Nilambar Dhangadamajhi, another fellow labourer from neighbouring Nuaguda village, had their hands chopped off by nine persons when the two refused to go to a brick kiln in Andhra Pradesh. 

A minor then, Dialu recovered but Nilambar could not. He succumbed to prolonged ailment resulting from the injuries in 2016.

“My sister is married in Nuaguda, 13 km away from Pipalguda. She was approached by the local contractor to send me for work. I was the only one from Pipalguda and there were 11 more from Nuaguda. The agent promised us jobs in Chhattisgarh but when we were told that we would be taken to work in a brick kiln in Andhra, I and Nilambar refused”, he recalls.  

What followed was a story of torture and suffering, a tale that is common to the migrant prone western Odisha.

Following outrage over the incident and intervention of Supreme Court in January 2014, the State Government had announced to sanction Rs 4 lakh each to the victims, 4 decimal homestead land and housing assistance under ‘Mo Kudia Yojana’.

Though the ex gratia was credited to Dialu’s account, the homestead land and housing unit never came. “I pursued the matter with the district officials at Bhawanipatna and Jaipatna block authorities for three to four months after my wounds healed but no one responded,” Dialu recalls the apathy of the administration.

He had no energy to fight as his request for a job as a peon or a sweeper in any government office or local school, too, was not paid heed to. 

The youngest among five siblings, Dialu now lives with his 70-year-old mother Toruni with all his four brothers staying separately. Life was manageable till his father Akhuram was alive.

“He passed away five years back due to old age. When he was alive, both my parents used to make ropes and sell them in the local haat. Our earnings were enough for sustenance,” he recounts.

After his father passed away, his mother has been working as a daily labourer and making ropes to eke out a living. It’s a hand to mouth survival for the mother and son duo.

He helps her in making ropes and sell but that’s not enough. Dialu gets Rs 700 as social security pension while his elderly mother gets Rs 500 as pension under Madhu Babu Pension Yojana and 5 kg rice from the government.

Pipalguda, a village dominated mostly by SCs, is one of the migration-prone villages of Kalahandi district. While 90 per cent of the villagers are mostly into bonded labour, others make ropes, graze cattle or work as agriculture labourers. 

The outbreak of Covid-19 has been disastrous to their livelihood. “There are days when we do not even earn a penny and on some occasions, I make Rs 20 to Rs 50 by doing menial jobs for some villagers”, says Dialu. His wounds may have healed but an indifferent system has left him scarred for life.​


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