BJP MPs, MLAs detained by Sambalpur police for protesting without permission
Photo Credit: ANI

Sambalpur (Odisha): More than 15 top BJP leaders including three MPs, eight MLAs and Leader of Opposition are sitting on a dharna inside the Town Police station in Sambalpur district since Thursday protesting against the anti-farmer policy of the Odisha Government and demanding procurement of all surplus paddy of farmers.

The BJP leaders who are on dharna include the co-party in charge of Odisha Bijay Pal Singh Tomar, State BJP President Samir Mohanty, Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Nayak, Baragad MP Suresh Pujari, Bolangir MP Sangeeta Singhdeo, Kalahandi MP Basanta Panda, former Minister K V Singh Deo and Sambalpur MLA Jayanarayan Mishra, Loisinga MLA Dr. Mukesh Mahaling.

The BJP leaders were taken into custody on Thursday while they were marching in a procession to gherao the office of the RDC Sambalpur after the death of a farmer in a mandi while he was waiting to the sale his 100 quintals of paddy. Before their arrest, they held a meeting at Ainthapalli and slammed the state government for their anti-farmer policy.

Sambalpur Superintendent of Police (SP) B. Gangadhar said they were arrested as they did not have permission to gherao the RDC office.

Pradeepta Kumar Nayak leader of Opposition in Odisha Legislative Assembly, Suresh Pujhari MP Bargad and Samir Mohanty BJP State President alleged that hundreds of farmers braving chilly weather conditions were sitting with their paddy in the open for months waiting for the procurement of their products but the government was not paying any heed to their demand.

The BJP leaders alleged that the problems in paddy procurement arose due to the introduction of the token system and they demanded to do away with the provision and procure all surplus paddy from farmers.

While the BJP leaders were sitting on dharna and sleeping inside the Police station during their 27 hours of detention, thousands of party supporters were seen protesting outside the police station.

The BJP leaders demanded that either the government should take them to a court or procure paddy of farmers. They threatened that they would not budge an inch till the government concedes to their demand.Sambalpur RDC asked them to wait 72 hours so that farmers' problems can be solved after discussion with State Government.

"Lakhs of quintals of paddy are still kept in mandis here. The government is not in a situation to use it. Yesterday three MPs, eight MLAs and LOP leaders have been arrested. We are in contact with the authorities as well. This protest will continue till the government gives a solution to pick up the paddy in mandis," said Suresh Pujhari, Member of Parliament, Bargad.

"We came here for the rally on Thursday. There is a need to pick up the paddy kept in mandis. We were peacefully conducting the rally. The government should have sent to ask why are we here," said Pradeepta Kumar Nayak, Leader of Opposition, BJP.

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