Ever since the outbreak of swine flu gripped the country, swine herders in Orissa have been ostracized and even been asked to leave their villages and relocate permanently.
Reports of the boycott have been received from Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and other coastal districts of Orissa. In one village, swine herders have been asked to "leave as early as possible".
"There are reports that swine flu is spreading fast in our country. We got to know that the disease has come from pigs. We are scared. We have already told the pig keepers to leave the villages and relocate their animals. If they don't leave the village, we will seek legal help," said Akshya Parida, councillor of Sandhakud village.
After similar reports came in from different parts of the state, worried pig keepers from across the state have decided to get together and face the situation jointly. Following a meeting in the state capital Wednesday, the swine herders gave a memorandum to state Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout seeking help.
"We earn our livelihood through this business. There are about 20,000 households in different parts of the state which subsist on swine keeping. But since the swine flu outbreak, our lives have turned hellish. People are after us to relocate outside the villages. It is a double jeopardy for us. Our business has gone down as there are few takers of pig meat which we used to send to Assam, Siliguri and Kolkata. To top it all, we are now facing social ostracisation," said Madhusudan Patra, president of the Orissa swine keepers association.
"Pig keepers from different parts of the state had come to me on Wednesday. They have apprised me of their problems. They have complained that they are being tortured in their villages after the swine flu reports." said Rout.
Rout has reportedly told the swine keepers to approach the health minister for launching awareness campaigns in this regard in the state.