Police Lathi-Charge On Odisha Farmers Sparks Reactions

**Bhubaneswar:** Close on the heels of being detained, dissuaded and arrested by the Odisha Police ahead of their mega rally at the State capital city here recently, aggrieved farmers on Wednesday yet again came under the butt of police action that has sparked off strong reactions against such an allegedly pressure tactics of the State Government.

Senior Congress leader Suresh Chandra Routray reacted, “It sheer injustice Naveen Babu. The way you are hitting at the poor’s belly, your (Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s) belly will definitely shrink due to their curse. Police have already defamed the women by dragging their stoles and ‘odhanis’ during the CM’s rally. Be careful! We’re farmers. We feed the society by dint of our hard labour.”

BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma remarked, “It’s unfortunate that the farmers who feed us, their food was snatched. We condemn the State Government’s attitude of suppressing the farmers and landless deploying police force. Even a minister has encroached upon the land in Kamakshyanagar and depriving the landless from their legitimate rights.”

On the contrary, Umakanta Samantaray, MLA, Satyabadi said, “The farmers are being confused by certain elements and such agitation being organised for political gains. Behind it are both the Congress and BJP. It’s their effort to put the State Government into trouble. The farmers have demanded restoration of all rivers. The State Government has already started it much earlier and the process is on. Their demand of embankment has also earlier been initiated by the State Government. They are also demanding Rs 12 lakh compensation for a fellow farmer who was killed in a road accident. I myself have initiated efforts for it.”

Notably, tension prevailed in Puri district on Wednesday afternoon when the police personnel resorted to a lathi-charge on the farmers staging road blockade on National Highway (NH)-316 alleging State Government’s apathy towards their community.

The lathi-charge was allegedly done on the striking activists, including women and children, when they were having food on road following which they ran helter-skelter and the uneaten or half-eaten food was lying strewn all over the NH.

Activists of Satyabadi Nilachal Krushak Mahasangh (SNKM) were staging protest on the NH near Satyabadi block office demanding fulfillment of their 9-point charter of demands, including Rs 500 minimum support price (MSP) of paddy, Rs 12 selling price of coconut and exemption of electricity duty for irrigation, sources said.

In order to facilitate vehicular movement which was disrupted due to the blockade as hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on both sides of the road, police lathi-charged on the activists, police claimed.