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Posco: protesters detain officials, police

Prafulla Das

The officials were released by Balisahi residents with a warning that they should not return to acquire land

- PHOTOS: PTI & LINGARAJ PANDA

As the Posco land acquisition issue rages, workers clear the project site of trees in the presence of the police at Polanga in Jagatsinghpur on Monday. In the second photograph, villagers close a road with tree trunks to stall the plant work and obstruct the entry of the armed police forces into Polanga. In the last photo, villagers of Nuagaon hold an emergency meeting as tension prevailed in the area after a few hundred trees were cut down in the forest area.

ERASAMA(orissa): In a dramatic turn of events, senior administration and police officials of Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district had a bitter experience on Monday when they went to carry out land acquisition for the proposed mega steel project of Posco.

Women took the lead in expressing their anger when they threw their broomsticks at the Additional District Magistrate of the area and the District Superintendent of Police at Balisahi hamlet in Nuagaon gram panchayat, which was so far considered to be a stronghold of the project supporters.

Trees felled

The residents of Balisahi detained the two officials after the administration felled more than 1,000 casuarina, cashew and neem trees after entering the area behind their hamlet.

The trees were felled when the residents of all hamlets under Nuagaon were away at Polang village to force the authorities to halt the boundary wall construction work on the land that was acquired by demolishing a large number of betel vineyards a few weeks ago. The work was stopped in view of the protest.

Hundreds of villagers, who were staging a dharna outside Gobindpur village demanding shifting of the project from the area, were also not aware of the tree felling operation.

This is because it was around that time when as many as 12 platoons of armed policemen almost surrounded the protesters from three directions.

The hundreds of men, women and children, who were participating in the dharna for the past three weeks, however, did not obey the administration's orders to vacate the dharna site.

The authorities asked the villagers to disperse after they declared the blockade illegal.

Human barricade

The presence of a delegation of the Orissa unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party led by party's State president Jual Oram gave a boost to the agitating villagers who had formed a human barricade at the dharna site to prevent the entry of land acquisition officials and police into Gobindpur and Dhinkia villages.

The police left the dharna site minutes after news came from neighbouring Nuagaon about the detention of the ADM and SP.

The two senior officials were released by the residents of Balisahi with a warning that they should not return to their village in the future to acquire land for Posco.

It may be recalled that the government had temporarily halted the land acquisition work on June 21 in view of the growing criticism over forceful acquisition of land.

However, resistance from the protesters as well as residents of Nuagaon on Monday forced the authorities to stop the land acquisition and construction work after they faced the wrath of the locals, particularly women.

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