HC issues notices to govt, PPSS leader on Posco PILs

Cuttack: High Court on Friday issued notices to state government and Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) president Abhaya Sahu entertaining two PILs filed by some `ousted` villagers of Patana in Dhinkia panchayat of Jagatsinghpur district who are now sheltered in a transit camp for the last four years.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and justice B N Mohapatra also issued notices to State Chief Secretary, Police DG, three other secretaries, Revenue Divisional Commissioner (central range), SP and collector of the district and local tehsildar and police and fixed next date of hearing on July 5.

The petitioners alleged that at least 52 families comprising 217 members were forcibly thrown out of their village in June 2007 by a group led by Sahu. Since then they have not been able to return to their homes for fear of further harassment by anti-Posco activists now spreading terror in the area, said petitioner advocate Pitambar Acharya.

Arguing his case on the day, Acharya brought to the notice of the High Court that attempt by the families to return to their village have gone in vain despite approaching the government, governor and the NHRC.

Acharya told the Court that the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 along with Article 300 (A) of the Constitution of these villagers have been severely infringed. He said following a clash between pro- and anti-Posco activists four years ago, these 52 families are now rehabilitated at a transit camp in miserable conditions with a paltry maintenance allowance of Rs 18 per day per person.

The counsel also informed the HC that the NHRC after being petitioned in 2008 had directed the State government to ensure that the families are sent back to their villages with adequate police escort and had directed the Chief Secretary to restore the Rule of Law in the area. "But nothing has been done yet," Acharya said.

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