Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Umerkote, Jun 26:
As many as 15 Congress workers including former Congress MP from Nabarangpur Pradip Majhi are on an indefinite hunger strike inside the Umerkote sub-jail in Odisha’s Nabarangpur district demanding land patta for tribals and fresh survey to identify poor eligible beneficiaries for issuing of ration cards under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
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.
Congress workers including Majhi were sent to jail after their bail applications were rejected by the local court here on Saturday.
In a demonstration organized by the Raighar Block Congress Committee over 3,000 Congress workers, Saturday marched in a rally up to the Raighar block and tehsil office demanding land patta of forest land and ration cards for 1.4 lakh eligible beneficiaries of Raighar block.
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 and forwarded them to court.
Congress workers later staged a road block at the DNK square protesting against the arrest.