26 Posco supporters held for clashes, murder

June 22nd, 2008 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Jagatsinghpur (Orissa), June 22 (IANS) At least 26 supporters of the proposed project by South Korean steel major Posco in Orissa have been arrested for allegedly attacking several protesters and killing a man, police said Sunday. One person was killed and two were injured after clashes broke out in Govindpur village in Jagatsinghpur district late Friday after a face-off between the supporters and critics of the proposed $12 billion steel plant.

A group of Posco supporters allegedly hurled country-made bombs at the rival group. A 35-year-old man, Bula Mandal died, while two sustained injuries, Kujanga police station in charge Anil Mishra told IANS.

After the incident, angry protestors confined nearly 60 project supporters in a school for over 24 hours.

A police team rescued them Saturday night and arrested 26 of them on the basis of a complaint lodged by Mandal’s wife Sabita, Mishra said.

Jagatsinghpur is about 100 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

The Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (Anti-Posco Agitation Committee), meanwhile, has decided to observe a ‘black week’ from Sunday.

It was on June 22 three years ago that the Orissa government and Posco, the world’s fourth largest steel maker, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build the $12 billion steel plant near Paradip port in Jagatsinghpur by 2016. It is said to be the largest foreign direct investment in India.

Hundreds of anti-Posco activists have worn black badges and said they would hold a number of rallies and public meetings in the region.

Anticipating trouble, the administration has deployed over 300 armed policemen in the area, the police official said.

Those opposed to the project say it will displace over 20,000 people from around 15 villages and ruin their betel leaf farming. Supporters say the plant will bring prosperity and employment.

Posco, however, says the plant would affect only 500 families but create thousands of jobs. In the three years since the deal was signed, there has been little progress on the ground as activists have launched agitations and united villagers against the project.

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