Football match dispute triggers caste violence in western Odisha

Football match dispute triggers caste violence in western Odisha

On August 27, the simmering tension snowballed into violence and several members of the Dalit community were allegedly injured.

The clashes rst began with disagreement over the football match on August 23 between the Dalit and OBC village teams and led to a social boycott of
Dalits and violence four days later.(REPRESENTATIONAL PHOTO)

A dispute over a football match triggered caste violence in western Odisha’s Subarnapur
district and left three people critically injured after members of a local Other Backward Class
(OBC) community allegedly attacked a group of Dalit villagers.

the format of the tournament from round-robin to knockout when the Dalit team lost one
match,” said Suna.
On August 27, the simmering tension snowballed into violence and several members of the
Dalit community were allegedly injured. “I had gone to buy some oil when I was attacked with
sticks, rods and stones. I suffered a fracture in my hand and my head,” said Prasadi, a local
villager.
The police conrmed the clashes and said an FIR was registered. “The investigation is on and
we are talking to all parties,” said Lokeshwar Sahoo, the inspector in-charge of Sonpur police
station. Members of the OBC
community rejected the charges and said they will le a police complaint.
The village chief, Dilip Seth, said he organised a meeting of the two communities and hoped
that peace would return to the area soon. “I have spoken to all leaders and hope to end the
dispute soon,” he added. Asked how a football tournament was organised at a time
coronavirus-induced restrictions are in place across the state, he said the sport was held as
part of a local festival and it would be investigated.
Experts said the caste divisions in western Odisha were old and deep. “There have been several
cases of caste atrocities in the region and we can see assertion by Dalits has led to more
violence,” said Jadumani Mahanand, a lecturer at OP Jindal Global University.

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