Artises who were allocated government homes on rent in Asiad village in the 1980s are being evicted by the Centre, according to reports. Several Padma and Sangeet Natak Akademi winners are among them.
Guru Mayadhar Raut, a 91-year-old Odissi dance exponent, was granted a Padma Shri – the country’s fourth highest civilian honour – by the President in 2010 for his vital role in establishing Odissi as a classical dance form. As he was evicted on Tuesday afternoon, the President’s certificate, along with his other things, lay on the road.
Madhumita Raut,his daughter, who’s also an Odissi dancer, said she was serving lunch when officials arrived. “I’m just extremely hurt and broken today. Here is a dancer who trained some of the most legendary dancers in the country like Sonal Mansingh and Radha Reddy and this is how brutally you treat this legend. He taught in Delhi for 50 years, and does not own an inch of land anywhere… he does not deserve to be thrown out like this. Every citizen deserves basic dignity,” said Madhumita.
Since the 1980s, artists between the ages of 40 and 70 have been provided with housing at low rates for three-year agreements that are periodically extended. The extensions expired in 2014, and since then, the artists and the Culture Ministry have been exchanging letters on a regular basis. They have been given notifications by the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry to vacate their homes by 2020. Some have petitioned the court, including late Kathak exponent Birju Maharaj, dhrupad exponent Wasifuddin Dagar, Kuchipudi maestro Jayarama Rao, and Mohiniyattam exponent Bharati Shivaji.
The government bungalows are going to continue being evicted, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ Directorate of Estates. “The union cabinet had taken a decision that artistes will no longer be eligible for government bungalows. The Delhi High Court had upheld that decision and asked us to allow them some more time to move out on humanitarian grounds (till April 25). That period, too, is gone and we have asked them to vacate. Out of 28 such accommodations, 17 artists have vacated and the remaining have communicated to us that they will do so in a few days,” the official said.