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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Guns to guard seat of power

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 13: Police today decided not to give permission for rallies and demonstrations involving more than 2,000 people at PMG Square near the state Assembly, as they were apprehensive of a repeat of their clash with teachers at the same spot last year.

This decision was taken keeping in mind the Assembly session that begins tomorrow.

Director general of police Prakash Mishra said: “There is a court order saying that crowds beyond 2,000 persons would not be allowed near the Assembly. We are just trying to implement the court’s order this time in letter and spirit.”

Elaborate security arrangements have been made to prevent any untoward incident. The police have set up tents and deployed the fire brigade on Mahatma Gandhi Marg near Lower PMG Square.

Nearly 38 platoons of police and two anti-Naxal Special Operation Groups have been deployed in and around the Assembly. Sharpshooters have been deployed on the rooftop and watchtowers erected on Mahatma Gandhi Marg.

Mishra visited the Assembly premises and reviewed the security aspects today. He said congregation of more than 2,000 people had created problems for the police in the past.

The police have taken this precaution after it learnt a bitter lesson during the last Assembly session on November 27 when more than 30,000 teachers and employees of 1,982 block grant and 327 eligible high schools marched towards the seat of power demanding abolition of the existing block grant system and provision of 100 per cent grant-in-aid on par with fully-aided high schools of the state.

The police had to use water canons, baton charge and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

On September 6 last year, the police and Congress workers were engaged in a pitched battle when the latter tried to break the security cordon, which left several injured on both sides.

College teachers, who have been on strike for more than 70 days near the Assembly, plan to launch a civil disobedience movement on February 22.

“We will also boycott the Plus Two and Plus Three examinations, which are scheduled to begin from February 28 and March 1. Despite assurances from the government, no steps have been taken to fulfil our demands that include giving grant in-aid to teachers instead of block grant.”