Ramakanta Biswas

Two separate public interest litigations (PILs) were filed in the Orissa High Court on Tuesday in connection with the lathi charge on protestors by police at the proposed steel plant by JSW Steel at Dhinkia village of Jagatsinghpur district recently. 

While one petition was filed by Phuli Mallick, a local woman, three advocates of the Orissa High Court-Kabiraj Pradhan, Khirod Rout and Dipak Mohapatra- filed the other PIL.  

The petitioners 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.  

The petitioners prayed to the Court to restrain the police from ‘terrorising’ the villagers and not to evict them from the land by using force, provide proper compensation to victims and treatment to the injured persons.   

They also urged the Court to order an inquiry into the alleged police atrocities and unlawful eviction by an independent agency other than the Odisha government agencies and direct the respondents to take appropriate action against guilty officials and police personnel.

One of the petitions has been listed for hearing on January 21. 

Kabiraj Pradhan, one of the petitioners, said, “We demand immediate withdrawal of police forces from the area and protection to the residents. Having seen the barbaric attacks on the women, we have lost faith on the police administration and want an impartial inquiry into the incident by an independent agency.”

“State Chief Secretary, Director General of Police (DGP), local tehsildar, Jagatsinghpur Collector and JSW Steel have been made parties to the case,” he added. 

Meanwhile, the State unit of BJP today alleged that the lathi charge by police on the villagers is a reflection of the infighting in the ruling BJD. 

Addressing a presser, BJP leader Bibhu Prasad Tarai alleged, “The clash is a reflection of the fight between Water Resources Minister Raghunandan Das and Jagatsinghpur district president and MLA Prasanta Muduli.” 

He alleged that the clash was politically-motivated to pave the way for collection of more donations from JSW Steel. 

“After the lathi charge episode on January 14, police forces are still deployed at the village till date. This is violation of human rights. We have submitted a memorandum to the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) in this regard today,” Tarai added.

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