BHUBANESWAR: Heavypolice bandobust by the State Government to prevent farmers from marching towards the Capital City for a mega rally demanding price, prestige and pension failed to dampen the spirit of the agitators. The National Highway 16 passing through the City is virtually under siege with the marchers blocking the roads on both sides of the city throwing the vehicular traffic out of gear.
Hundreds of farmers managed to break the police cordon near Tomando and entered the City to join the rally despite imposition of Section 144 on both sides of the National Highway. However, Commissionerate Police managed to stop the farmers near Patrapada and took 1,100 protestors into preventive custody.
Meanwhile, the State Government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee comprising Agriculture and Panchayati Raj Minister Pradeep Maharathy and Cooperative Minister SN Patro under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera to prepare terms of reference to discuss the demands of the farmers.
“We have requested the farmers to come for a discussion with the State Government which is prepared to consider their demands. The Government stands committed to the cause of farmers’ welfare,” Behera who met the farmers near Hanspal on Sunday night said. Likening the Government action to an undeclared emergency, state convenor of Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS), the umbrella organisation spearheading the farmers’ movement, Akshya Kumar said, “The formation of inter-ministerial committee is another attempt to cheat us.”
Asserting that the farmers will further intensify their agitation, Kumar said no amount of police action will deter them from fighting for their just demands. “If farmers are barred from entering Bhubaneswar, politicians will not be allowed to enter our villages,” he cautioned.
Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra condemned the Government’s attempt to prevent farmers from entering Bhubaneswar stating that the move was undemocratic. “I fully support the farmers demand,” he said.“The ruling BJD is hoodwinking farmers with false promises. Although farmers are staging agitation in democratic manner, efforts are being made to throttle their voices,” remarked State BJP president Basant Panda.