An association representing the Paraja Adivasi community in Odisha has called for action against a social worker who had allegedly forced Padma Shri awardee Kamala Pujari to dance inside the hospital in Cuttack district before she was being discharged, PTI reported. The incident had occurred on Monday.
Pujari, 71, alleged that social worker Mamata Behera had allegedly forced her to do Dhemsa dance. In the video shared by ANI on Saturday, Pujari can be seen dancing in the hospital. She was admitted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Odisha’s Cuttack with kidney problems.
Speaking to reporters, the Padma awardee said on Friday, “I was unwell, despite that a social worker (Mamata Behera) forced me to dance with her. She asked me to do the Dhemsa dance before the camera.”
“I never wanted to dance but was forced to do it. I repeatedly denied, but she (Behera) did not listen. I was sick and got tired,” Pujari told television channels in Koraput district, as quoted by PTI.
After the video went viral, sub-collector of Jeypore, Koraput BB Pradhan said an inquiry will be initiated over the matter.
“It’s unfortunate that Kamala Pujari was forced to dance while she was in a hospital for her treatment. We will enquire about the matter further,” Pradhan said, as quoted by ANI.
Pujari was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019 for promoting organic farming and preserving over 100 varieties of indigenous seeds for different crops, which also includes paddy. She belongs to the Paraja community, a major Scheduled Tribe of Odisha, comprising four per cent of the state’s tribal population.
Further, Harish Muduli, president of the tribal community’s association ‘Paraja Samaja’, said its member will come out in the streets to protest if action is not initiated against Behera.
Meanwhile, Behera, claimed that she wanted to “shun Pujari’s laziness” and that it was not done with bad intention.
However, hospital authorities said that the elderly woman was not in the ICU but admitted in a special cabin. Dr Abinash Rout, the registrar (administration) of the hospital said that Behera used to visit her at the special cabin, but Pujari’s attendant Rajeeb Hial said that he did not know Behera, as reported by PTI.