Odisha farmers' agitation foiled, over 300 taken into custody

A majority of protesters were detained at Hi-Tech Square, one of the entry points to the city, on NH16.

Published: 14th December 2016 12:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 14th December 2016 04:53 PM   |  A+A-

Odisha Farmers' Protest-EPS

Agitating farmers being taken into police costody at PMG Square in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. | (Shamim Qureshy | EPS)

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Tension ran high at several places in the capital city on Wednesday as police prevented the entry of farmers coming to participate in a mass agitation led by Navanirman Krushak Sangathan (NKS) at PMG Square here.

The agitating farmers and their leaders were dragged to police vans before being sent to police reserve ground. The police later resorted to mass arrests from multiple locations in Bhubaneswar reportedly in a bid to foil the agitation.

The majority of arrests were executed at Hi-Tech Square (one of the entry point to the city, on National Highway 16) which was the pre-designated site to launch the protest. Prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC ) was imposed at Hi-Tech Square and checking of passenger vehicles was intensified.

The city was fortified with 50 platoon force deployed at vantage points, entry and exit points, bus stands and railway stations. So far at least 300 protesters have been taken into custody and kept at the police reserve ground.

The demonstration, however, could not take place as the activists were detained before they are congregated at the venue. Protesters who indulged in minor skirmishes with police at PMG Square, Vani Vihar Square, Rasulgarh Square and Hi-Tech Square were also detained.

Police sources said some of the farmers' leaders were arrested on suspicion of planning ‘illegal’ demonstrations before the Assembly. Others, who managed to reach up to PMG Square to join the demonstration, were taken into preventive custody.

NKS advisor Soumya Ranjan Patnaik who was arrested from Rasulgarh Square alleged that the State government was making an attempt to choke the farmers’ voice with force.

“The steps taken by the Government is draconian and farmers have decided to launch Satyagraha across the State from Thursday onward,” Patnaik said.

NKS had earlier announced to resort to mass agitation demanding price, pension and prestige (PPP) for farmers. Sensing trouble during the agitation, the commissionerate of police on Monday arrested Akshaya Kumar and Shesadeb Nanda, two frontline leaders of the association. The duo, currently lodged at the Bhubaneswar Special Jail is on a hunger strike since Tuesday.

Police commissioner YB Khurania said they had specific intelligence inputs about the protesters creating a law and order situation in the capital city while the Assembly session is on.

“Permission for the demonstration was withdrawn and some of the representatives of the association taken into custody as they did not comply with the guidelines for carrying out a small scale and peaceful protest,” Khurania added.

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