Hundreds court arrest to protest Posco

Bhubaneswar: About 200 leaders and activists of five political parties on Monday courted arrested here while trying to enter into state secretariat as part of their civil disobedience agitation against alleged forcible land acquisition for Posco project near Paradip.

The leaders of CPI, CPI (M), Forward Bloc, RJD and Samajwadi Party along with their supporters held a rally on Mahatma Gandhi Road before marching towards the state secretariat. The agitators were prevented from entering the restricted zone around the secretariat by security personnel.

"The agitators were taken into custody for trying to break law. They were later freed on personal release bond," said DCP Nitinjit Singh.

Demanding relocation of the proposed Posco project from fertile land in three gram panchayats of Dhinkia, Gobindpur and Gadakujang, CPI state secretary Dibakar Nayak justified their attempt to break laws.

"When the state government breaks laws to acquire land for Posco, we do not see any wrong in civil disobedience agitation by the five political parties," Nayak said demanding immediate halt on use of force to acquire land for the South Korean steel major.

Meanwhile, district administration of Jagatsinghpur today acquired 50 betel vines and distributed compensation of Rs 84 lakh in Nuagaon area of Gadakujang gram panchyat. "So far we have acquired 645 betel vines and distributed Rs 6.85 crore among land losers," said a senior revenue department official.

As the land acquisition in Gadakujang gram panchayat was completed, the district administration was preparing to enter into the trouble zone of Dhinkia. "We will move to Dhinkia area in a day or two," another official said.

Tension prevailed in the area as about eight platoons of (about 250 personnel) armed police staged a march past in Nuagaon area bordering Dhinkia gram panchayat.

"We are ready to face the police. Our people are committed to prevent police and state government officials from entering our villages," said Posco Pratorodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) president Abhay Sahu adding villagers would give appropriate reply if police used force for land acquisition.

PPSS, the body opposing the South Korean steel major, has deployed its activists, mostly women, round the clock at all entry points to Dhinkia area.

"We are ready to take on police and the state government if they attempt to enter into our villages in Dhinkia gram panchayat," said Manorama Khatua, the leader of PPSS`s women wing.

The district administration, however, maintained that it would acquire government land under encroachment by the people in Dhinkia area. "No private land from Dhinkia area will be acquired as directed by the state government," district rehabilitation and resettlement officer Surjit Das said.