Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Malkangiri, Jun 30:
Over 50 Congress workers were arrested today while they attempted to barge in into the District Forest Officer (DFO’s) office in Odisha’s district headquarters town of Malkangiri.
As per reports, hundreds of Congressmen who came in a rally to the DFO’s office held a demonstration to protest against the arrest of former Nabarangpur MP and 18 others suddenly went berserk and attempted to barge in into the DFO’s office leaving police with no option than to arrest over 50 of them.
The activists demanded the immediate release of Pradip Majhi and grant of land pattas to tribals under the Forest Rights Act (FRA).
It may be noted here that Majhi and 18 other Congress workers were arrested on Saturday for allegedly beating up the Raighar Forest Ranger and ransacking the department’s Range office at Raighar during a demonstration demanding land pattas for tribals of Raighar under the Forest Rights Act and ration cards to eligible poor beneficiaries.
After submitting a memorandum to the Governor through the District Forest Officer, the demonstrators alleging that the ranger had taken bribes to the tune of Rs 3 crore for providing patta for forest lands went berserk, pelted stones at the policemen and barged into the Forest department’s Range office.
Ranger Kumar Khara in his complaint to the police alleged that agitated demonstrators thrashed him, tore his clothes and upturned his SUV, ransacked his office apart from damaging furniture and other articles including fans in the office.
Khara also alleged in his complaint that the mob looted 30 bicycles, axes, machetes etc seized earlier by the department.
Basing on Khara’s complaint police arrested 19 Congress workers including Majhi.