Pregnant woman jailed for seeking job dies after release

The protest was withdrawn after the villagers were assured that their demands will be considered.
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

BERHAMPUR/KORAPUT: Tension flared up at Andirakanch village in Rayagada’s Kashipur block on Thursday after a pregnant woman who was lodged in jail for around a fortnight for demanding job in Utkal Alumina, died after giving birth to a baby boy.

The deceased was identified as Mala Nayak. Sources said Mala and 12 other women of Andirakanch were arrested on December 26 for staging dharna in front of Utkal Alumina demanding employment in the company. The next day, they were produced in court by Andirakanch police.

Sources said Mala and four other women were pregnant when they were arrested by police. Considering their situation, villagers appealed to the local court to release them on bail. The court accepted their plea on January 6 but they could not be released as another case was registered against them by police. Finally, the women were granted bail on January 10.

By the time they were freed from prison, it was already evening and the women decided to stay in Rayagada town. But the next day, Mala complained of labour pain and was admitted to Rayagada hospital where she gave birth to a boy. However, her condition deteriorated and she was referred to SLN Medical College and Hospital, Koraput. Mala, however, died on way.

Following her death, villagers of Andirakanch blocked the local road with Mala’s body demanding compensation for the bereaved family and proper treatment of her newborn.On being informed, Andirakanch IIC Sukumar Hansdah along with officials of Utkal Alumina reached the village and held discussion with the agitators.

The protest was withdrawn after the villagers were assured that their demands will be considered.
Meanwhile, Koraput MP Saptagiri Ulaka blamed Rayagada police for the death of Mala. “Police and the company officials are responsible for the woman’s death,” he alleged.

The MP said during her arrest, Mala was nine-month pregnant. After staying in jail for around 15 days, she was released on bail.  Demanding a high-level probe into the incident, Ulaka threatened to raise the issue in Lok Sabha.

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