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Ruckus as farmers knock on CM doors

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 17: Citadel Naveen Nivas was breached early this morning.

Nearly 60 members of the Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan took cops on duty by surprise and knocked at the gate of the chief minister’s Palaspalli residence to demand hike in the procurement price of paddy and pension.

The protesters outnumbered security personnel guarding Naveen Nivas and sat in front of the gate shouting slogans against the government. City police arrested around 60 persons for violating prohibitory orders.

This incident raised questions about the security arrangement around important installations in the city and the efficiency of the intelligence wing of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police.

The protesters gathered near Naveen Nivas around 5.45am, when a few security personnel, including the armed police, were keeping vigil. A security official said the agitators came in three trucks from Palaspalli. They alighted from the vehicles at Airport Square and rushed towards Naveen Nivas.

A scuffle ensued between the agitators and the guards as a handful of security personnel tried to stop the protesters from entering Naveen Nivas.

“Before we could grasp what was going on, they had almost reached the gate. Within no time our forces removed them from near the gate. As their numbers were more, we had trouble removing the agitators from the area. We informed our senior officers,” said a policeman deployed in front of Naveen Nivas.

Thirty minutes later, senior officers, along with more police personnel, reached the spot and arrested the protesters for illegally entering the prohibited area.

The agitators demanded revision in procurement price for paddy. “At present, the minimum support price per quintal of paddy has been fixed at Rs 1,250 for 2012-2013. We want it to be raised to Rs 5,000. The hike will help improve the living standards of the farmers. Though the lawmakers have been discussing the matter, they are not taking any positive,” said convener of Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan Akhaya Kumar.

Prohibitory orders has been clamped in the area, which makes organising protests near Naveen Nivas unlawful.

Two platoons of policemen, along with armed guards, have been deployed at four places along the road in front of Naveen Nivas to thwart any kind of security risk to Naveen. Top police officials had said security had been strengthened for the ongoing winter session, but today’s incident was an eye opener.

The BJD has expressed displeasure over the incident. Information and public relations minister Arun Sahoo said: “They should have put forth their demand instead of gheraoing Naveen Nivas. They should have spoken to the government.”