Bhubaneswar, Dec 24:
Twenty six members of Nabanirman Krushak Sanghathan (NKS) were arrested when they blocked the car of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as he was about to enter the state secretariat this morning.
The protesters sprawled themselves on the road in front of Jayadev Bhavan demanding the fulfillment of their demands just as the Chief Minister’s cavalcade was about to enter the secretariat. Patnaik was stranded on the road for several minutes before making an about turn and entering the secretariat through the back side entry to the building due to the protest.
Later, the police swooped down on the protesters and took 26 of them into custody, Twin City commissioner RP Sharma said. “We have registered criminal cases against them and will take stringent action,” he said.
There was information that NKS volunteers would protest near Naveen Nivas and adequate arrangements had been made around the Chief Minister’s residence to avoid any untoward incident. “But unfortunately, they protested en route,” the commissioner said, indirectly admitting that the Sangathan had taken th epolice for a ride.
The Sangathan, it may be noted, had served a 24-hour ultimatum to the state government on Monday to fulfill its twin demands of Rs 2, 000 pension to every farmer family and an additional Rs 500 bonus per quintal of paddy, failing which it had threatened to launch a civil disobedience movement from today.
“We have been on a fast for a fortnight to press our two demands. But the apathetic government has not even bothered to invite us for talks,” said Akshaya Kumar, state coordinator of NKS.
This is not the first time that NKS has taken security forces by surprise. A few months ago, NKS members had managed to break the security cordon around Naveen Nivas early in the morning, forcing further tightening of the already elaborate security around the Chief Minister’s residence.
Members of NKS had also managed to shout slogans from the visitors’ gallery in the state Assembly during its just concluded winter session.