New Delhi: Guru Mayadhar Raut, a 90-year-old Padma Shri awardee and Odissi dancer, was evicted from his government housing in Delhi’s Asian Games village yesterday. According to the authorities, the housing was cancelled in 2014, and eviction letters had already been issued. He and other artists had gone to court, but had lost their case, and had been given an April 25 deadline to leave.
A reaction against the Centre erupted when images of a weak Mr Raut outside his home, surrounded by his things. His Padma Shri citation was also found on the sidewalk.
Madhumita Raut, Mr Raut’s daughter, claims that while the eviction was lawful, the way in which it was carried out was unethical. She blasted the Centre, claiming that the PM Modi-led administration does not value artists.
The government may have taken the choice in 2014, but it was only revealed to the artists in 2020, according to her. She further questioned the government’s intentions, asking whether it was a “political game” that the BJP had to grab the lodging away since Rajiv Gandhi had allocated it.
“We are very low on this government’s priority. There’s no cultural policy as well. I am not against the eviction, but the inhumane way it was done. Our belongings were thrown out. Had I not luckily been with my father that day, he might have died,” Ms Raut said.
She claimed that she was feeding her father dinner when the doorbell rang at approximately 1 p.m., and authorities who identified themselves as eviction police barged into her home, claiming they didn’t have even two minutes to spare.
“Immediately, labourers and policemen arrived. They started throwing out his belongings and my father was in a state of shock,” she said and added that he suffers from multiple ailments.
Ms Raut alleges that the officers failed to provide her any notification and became irritated when she asked to view the order. “I requested them to wait another day as our review petition is listed in the court for tomorrow but they refused saying what if we get a stay order,” she said.
“He has served this country all these years. He taught disciples under the guru-shishya tradition and didn’t earn a rupee from his services. He has no property or land anywhere and has just ₹ 3,000 in his bank account. How can you just throw him out?” she added and claimed such a thing doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.
Following Mr Raut’s expulsion, the Centre on Wednesday requested that eight other notable artists vacate the premises by May 2.
According to a top Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry official, eight of the 28 artists have still not relocated out of their government housing after several notifications.
“These eight artistes assured us that they are in the process of vacating their bungalows and sought some more days. They have given us an undertaking in writing that they would vacate the facilities by May 2 and we have given them time till then,” the official told media.
On the advice of the cultural ministry, up to 40 artistes can be allocated housing in the General Pool Residential Accommodation under a special quota if they earn less than 20,000 per month, according to government legislation.