Posco: Five parties launch 24×7 dharna

Bhubaneswar: Demanding immediate withdrawal of police force from Posco`s proposed plant site near Paradip, five political parties on Thursday launched a day-night dharna here even as project-related works were stopped for the fifth consecutive day due to Opposition from locals.

Leaders and activists of CPI, CPI-M, Forward Bloc, RJD and Samajwadi Party held a demonstration before sitting on a dharna on Mahatma Gandhi Marg near the state secretariat.

Accusing the Orissa government of terrorising anti-project protesters by deploying armed police close to their dharna site, CPI state secretary Dibakar Nayak alleged "police beat up people and forcibly acquired their betel vines."

The anti-Posco agitators including children and women were sitting on dharna at Gobindpur, the entry point to Dhinkia gram panchayat since June 2. The human barricade by villagers have prevented the entry of police into Dhinkia area, the epicentre of anti-Posco agitation, he said.

"The state government`s efforts to use force in order to break the peaceful and democratic protest could prove costly," said Samajwadi Party state leader Rabi Behera adding their dharna would continue during the night also.

The five parties also criticised Chief Secretary B K Patnaik who termed children`s participation in the anti-Posco agitation as "illegal".

"The chief secretary should study history of freedom struggle where children had also played a role," said CPI leader Asish Kanungo.

Meanwhile, government officials were prevented by villagers when they reached Nuagaon gram panchayat to fell trees. A Congress delegation also visited the area and extended support to the ongoing agitation saying the project should not be allowed in fertile land.