Pradeep Pattanayak

The Orissa High Court on Thursday directed the State Home Department to submit a status report on the present situation in the ‘ground zero’ at Dhinkia village of Jagatsinghpur district where a violent clash broke out between the residents and police recently.  

Hearing two public interest litigations (PILs) filed over alleged lathi charge on protestors by police at the proposed JSW Steel plant site, the HC has directed the Home Department that one of its senior officers will submit the status report on the present situation in Dhinkia and its nearby areas. While one PIL was filed by a local woman Phuli Mallick, three advocates of the Orissa High Court-Kabiraj Pradhan, Khirod Rout and Dipak Mahapatra- filed another petition. 

Apart from the status report, the HC has also directed the Jagatsinghpur district Collector to take steps to ensure that the normal life of the people in Dhinkia area is not affected. 

The petitioners in their PILs had sought protection of human rights as well as fundamental rights and other Constitutional rights of the inhabitants of Dhinkia and the nearby villages under Abhayachandpur police limits.  
Underlining the police atrocities, the petitioners had also prayed to the Court to restrain the police from intimidating the villagers, not to use force to evict them from the land, provide proper compensation to victims and treatment to the injured persons.   

Notably, the people of Dhinkia village in Jagatsinghpur district have been opposing the proposed JSW Steel project in their village tooth and nail. 
On January 14, the police were carrying out a drive of eviction of betel vine plantation in the village. The villagers, including women, put up a strong protest to save their crops. Consequently, the police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the crowd. Several villagers had suffered injuries. 

Subsequently, the village was converted into a virtual fortress with the deployment of huge forces, curtailing the supply of minimum facilities to the area. Several arrests were made. Fearing arrests, people stopped coming out of their houses. 

The next hearing will be held on January 27.

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