Arrest of anti-Posco leader triggers tension

November 27th, 2011 - 11:52 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Nov 27 (IANS) The arrest of top anti-Posco leader Abhaya Sahu has triggered tension in Odisha’s Jagatsingpur district as thousands of villagers blocked roads and sealed entry points to the site of the proposed steel project by the South Korean major, a protest leader said Sunday.

Police said security has been beefed up in the area as they anticipate trouble.

“People have installed wooden barricades in the villages of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, Mahara and Patna and they are keeping round-the-clock vigil to prevent entry of any company and government officials to the proposed site,” Prasant Paikray a protest leader, told IANS.

“He (Sahu) has been booked on false charges. It was a move to suppress the anti-Posco movement but the administration will not get success,” he added.

“Those who are supporting our agitation will stage demonstrations in Bhubaneswar on Monday. Similar protests will also be held in other parts of the country on different dates,” he said.

Police Friday arrested Sahu, the head of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) — a Communist Party of India (CPI) backed organisation which has been spearheading agitation against the steel project in the region.

District Superintendent of Police S.S. Dev Dutta Singh said the anti-Posco leader was wanted in several cases including in a dowry death case and in a case of atrocity against the members of scheduled caste.

“There have been some stray protests after the arrest. We are keeping a close watch on the situation,” Singh said.

Posco had signed a pact with Odisha June 22, 2005 to build a 12 million tonne per annum steel project, a captive port and a captive power plant near the port town of Paradip, about 120 km from here.

The South Korean steel major requires about 4,000 acres of land for the $12 billion project. Officials claim they have half the required land where the construction activities are in progress.

However, thousands of people have not been allowing officials to enter into the remaining area, saying the project will ruin their agrarian livelihoods. They say the site has more than 2,000 betel leaf plantations which provide sustenance to villagers.

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