A large number of Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers took out a procession here on Thursday to protest against rise in the prices of essential commodities and to demand ration cards to all below the poverty line (BPL) families.

Some of the party workers who broke through the security cordon at the Deputy Commissioner’s Office and barged into the premises were taken into custody.

The State committee of the party had given a call for the protest.

Earlier, addressing the protesters in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office, B. Madhava, district unit president of the party, alleged that quantity of foodgrains being supplied to the poor through the Public Distribution System (PDS) was being reduced, endangering the food security.

He urged that the State Government fulfil its promise of providing 20 kg of rice at Rs. 2 a kg every month to poor families.

He threatened that the party would intensify the agitation if the demands were not fulfilled.

Even as Mr. Madhava was addressing the protesters, some of the party activists pushed aside a few policemen at the main gate of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office, barged into the premises and started protesting in front of the Tahsildar’s Office. They were all taken into custody.

Later, the protesters, including party leaders Vasanth Achari and Sunil Kumar Bajal, courted arrest. All of them were released later.

Policies blamed

Udupi Staff Correspondent writes:

Members of the Udupi district unit of the CPI (M) laid siege to the Deputy Commissioner’s Office here on Thursday, protesting against increase in the prices of essential commodities.

Secretary of the district unit of the party K. Shankar said that both the Union and State governments were following identical policies that were detrimental to the interests of the common man.

The Government should distribute ration cards to all poor families. All ration card-holders should be provided 35 kg of rice and pulses at Rs. 2 a kg every month. The PDS should be strengthened and stern action taken against those found hoarding foodgrains. The Government should also reduce the prices of petrol and diesel, Mr. Shankar said.

Wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act should be increased to Rs. 150 a day and employment should be provided for a minimum of 200 days, Mr. Shankar said.

CPI (M) leaders Vishwanath Rai, A.S. Acharya, Dasbhandary, Dogu Suvarna, Ramesh Mendon, S. Kaviraj, Vidyaraj, H. Vittal, Suresh Kalagar and Mahabala Voderhobli were present.

The protesters were arrested by the police and released later.

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