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Policemen redeployed at POSCO site

Paradip: A day after declaring assembly of anti-Posco agitators at entry point to Dhinkia area near here as “unlawful”, Orissa government on Saturday redeployed police force and hinted at action if protesters continue to prevent movement of officials at the proposed steel project site.

As the villagers, refusing to give away their land for the steel plant, formed a three-tier human barricade at the entry point, 23 platoons of police (about 800 personnel) were redeployed in the area, official sources said.

Police were withdrawn from the area on Friday as the district administration of Jagatsinghpur made efforts to persuade the agitators to allow movement of officials in the area for land acquisition work for the project, they said.

The villagers refused to budge an inch from their place of agitation with children on the fore front and women and elderly persons following them.

Vowing to oppose the project tooth and nail, a school student said he along with his friends would continue to lay on the road braving the scorching sun to prevent entry of police and officials into the area.

As government’s appeal to the agitators to get their grievances redressed through talks went unheeded, district collector of Jagatsinghpur N C Jena said, “Appropriate action could be taken if repeated efforts to persuade the protesters to disperse fail.”

“The government does not want to use force but if unlawful assembly continues in the area necessary steps will have to be taken,” he said.

Leaders of various political parties rushed to the area and asked the state government to stay away from resorting to “forcible” land acquisition for the Rs 52,000-crore Posco project.

Left parties including CPI and CPI(M) warned the government of dire consequences if force was used to acquire land for establishment of the mega steel project. Their leaders also rushed to the proposed plant site, sources said.

Congress and other political parties committed their support to the people unwilling to give their land for the South Korean steel maker.

Congress has deputed a four-member team headed by party’s chief spokesman Prof Kailash Acharya to Dhinkia area.

“Though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had announced that force won’t be used for acquiring land for industries, the present situation and mobilisation of police force proved his false claim,” Acharya said.

Meanwhile, the district administration had acquired a total of 656 betel vines and disbursed compensation of Rs 6.85 crore among the land losers in Gadakujang and Nuagaon gram panchayats, sources said.

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