An association representing the Paraja Adivasi community in Odisha, has called for action against a social worker who allegedly forced Padma Shri awardee Kamala Pujari suffering from a kidney ailment to dance inside a hospital in Cuttack before she was discharged, PTI reported.

Pujari said that she was forced to dance despite being sick. “I never wanted to dance but was forced to do it,” she said. “I repeatedly denied, but she [the social worker] did not listen. I was sick and got tired.”

The associaiton, Paraja Samaja, has demanded action against the social worker, Mamata Behera, after a video of the dance was shared on social media. Its president Harish Muduli said the members of the community will protest on streets if the state government does not punish Behera.

Pujari belongs to the Paraja community that comprises around 4% of the state’s tribal population. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019 for promoting organic farming and preserving over 100 varieties of indigenous seeds for different crops.

Dr Abinash Rout, the registrar (administration) of the hospital, said that Behera used to visit the special cabin in which Pujari was being treated. However, Pujari’s attendant Rajeeb Hilal said that they do not know Behera.

The social worker said that her intention behind making Pujari dance was not bad, adding that she wanted to “shun Pujari’s laziness”