Inter-ministerial panel formed to look into farmers’ demands; NNKS rejects panel, continue agitation

Bhubaneswar: Amid massive agitation by thousands of farmers under the aegis of Naba Nirman Krushak Sanghathan (NNKS), Odisha government today constituted an inter-ministerial committee to look into the farmers’ demands.

The Committee will be headed by Finance Minister Sashibhusan Behera while Cooperative Minister Surya Narayan Patro and Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy will be its members. The committee will prepare its Term of Reference (TOR) very soon to look into the demands of farmers.

On the other hand, the agitating farmers dubbed the committee as ploy to foil the farmers’ movement. “It is again a pretention. The ministerial committee has not been formed for pension of farmers, which is our one of the foremost demands. We outrightly rejected such committee and will continue our agitation despite police action on our way. The government has created an undeclared emergency. Just wait, we would soon bring a real emergency,” NNKS convenor Akshya Kumar said.

Around 30,000 farmers were coming towards Bhubaneswar in a padyatra in two separate groups, one was from Khurdha and another was from Cuttack. Police way laid a group near Tamando in Khurdha by imposing section 144 on the national highway yesterday. The farmers today defied the prohibitory orders and marched toward the Capital city breaking police cordon. As they reached Khandagiri square, hundreds of activists including Congress leader Pradeep Majhi who joined the rally were taken into preventive custody.

On the other hand, another group which was proceeding towards Capital city from Cuttack was blocked by police at Hansapal square. The group led by Convenor Akshaya Kumar sat on dharna on the spot after police prevented them from proceeding further.

“If the farmers are not allowed to the Capital, then politicians would not be allowed to enter villages and no pooling booths can be set up for votes. The agitation has taken a new turn. It will go ahead till the government bowed down. Police arrested our 300 activists today. Can they arrest 30,000 farmers? We are ready to be arrested. We are ready to go anywhere they want to take us,” Akshya Kumar said.

Around 25 platoons of police have been deployed on both sides to control the agitators. To monitor the situation, Cuttack collector and senior police officers, including the IG, Central Range, and the DCPs of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, are present at Hansapal.

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