Hundreds protest anti-Posco activist’s arrest in Orissa (Lead)

October 27th, 2008 - 4:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Oct 27 (IANS) Around 300 people, including villagers and opposition party leaders, staged a demonstration in Orissa’s Cuttack city Monday, demanding the release of anti-Posco leader Abhaya Kumar Sahu who was arrested Oct 12.The villagers, joined by members of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and other opposition party leaders, carried out a procession and staged their protest near the office of Director General of Police (DGP) Manmohan Praharaj in Cuttack, around 25 km from here.

“We met the DGP and submitted a memorandum demanding the release of our leader,” said Amarendra Mohanty, one of the demonstrators.

“Police have arrested him on false charges,” he said.

According to the police, there are over 20 criminal cases pending against Sahu, who is also a senior CPI leader.

Posco, the world’s fourth largest steelmaker, signed a deal with the Orissa government in June 2005 to build a steel plant by 2016 in Jagatsinghpur district, over 100 km from here.

However, over 20,000 people from around 15 nearby villages have opposed the project, saying it would take away their homes and livelihood.

Posco says the plant would affect only 500 families but would create thousands of jobs. The project has not made any progress because of the protest by local villagers.

Hundreds of college and school students had Sunday launched a protest in Jagatsinghpur against the proposed steel plant and also demanded Sahu’s release.

The students from Nuagaon, Gada Kujanga and Dhinkia villages carried out processions holding placards, banners and posters in Dhinkia - the epicentre of the anti-Posco agitation in the coastal district.

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