Minors used as human shield to oppose Posco

Bhubaneswar: The anti-Posco agitators seem to have stepped over the legal lines as children guarded the frontline of three-tier human barricade on Friday to oppose the land acquisition process for proposed Posco steel mill at Jagatsinghpur. 

Despite the scorching heat, children were made to stand on the forefront of the agitation and women and elderly persons followed them. Around 2000-strong agitators participated in the protest against land acquisition.

“We will protest this lying here till the end of our life as our parents have undergone a lot of torture. We have missed classes and tuitions to be part of this agitation. We will continue to do so till Posco moves from here,” a local child said.

As per reports, at least six persons suffered sunstroke and were later offered medical assistance by district administration. But, they refused to budge an inch from the place of agitation. They continued to sleep on the road till the police personnel and district administration officials were withdrawn from the place.

At around 10 am, the police flag march reached Govindpur entry point from near Dhinkia school. The district administration was supposed to enter Govindpur village under Dhinkia panchayat today but had to confront anti-Posco activists.

The district administration and the anti-project agitators were at loggerheads for around four hours. The administration, then, declared the assembly of protestors as “unlawful” and asked them to leave the place. The protestors, who were in no mood to shift, resisted the dismantling of betel vines and land acquisition process.

“They are fighting for their protection of their life and livelihood in a democratic and peaceful manner. Today, children, who are the inheritors of the lands, joined the bandwagon lying on the ground protesting this,” PPSS President Abhay Sahu said.

However, the district administration could manage to acquire 11 betel vines and disbursed Rs 6.20 lakh among the beneficiaries today.

“Maintaining law and order in a peaceful manner, we conducted the surveys of betel vines and the subsequent acquisition of them,” Jagatsinghpur Collector Narayan Jena said.

Meanwhile, the land acquisition for Posco has gathered political steam as Congress leader Narsingh Mishra alleged that government has resorted to forcible land acquisition while it had assured that no force will be used for land acquisition.