Cops leaving school-shelter near Posco site

Kendrapara: Chastised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for lodging police at a government-run primary school, Jagatsinghpur district administration is now vacating the school building accommodating armed cops for about two years to maintain law and order in the proposed Posco steel plant site.

NCPCR had paid a visit to project villages earlier this month and asked Orissa government to take immediate steps to withdraw police forces who were being given shelter in schools in the Posco project site area.

Earlier the matter relating to use of school buildings for police shelter had come under judicial scrutiny with Orissa High Court serving show cause notice to the state government. The matter is sub-judice with verdict awaited.

With the project locked up in a resistance movement, a section of guardians had sought high court`s intervention while stating that the presence of police is adversely affecting the academic activities.

The government-run Balitutha primary school had become temporary home for armed constabulary since the past 19 months when the resistance movement against the steel project was at its peak.

The civil and police administration preferred to house the armed police at the particular school building because of its strategic location.

Balitutha staying on the borderline of steel mill project incidentally happened to the entry point of the project. The place is witness to resistance movements in the past necessitating police deployment at the spot.

"On direction of district Collector, we have vacated the parts of the school building in which police were housed.

The police forces were withdrawn from school premises. They are being accommodated at another place in Balitutha," said S Devdatta Singh, Superintendent of Police, Jagatsinghpur.

"Though police had been sheltered in the school, it was ensured that classroom teaching was least affected. Now, police force had been withdrawn from the site after NCPCR sought for the freeing of the school campus from armed police," said Jagatsinghpur Collector N C Jena.