Saturday, May 25, 2013

[Brief Report] Protest Held Against Unabated State Repression on Anti-POSCO Struggle in Odhisa

Today in a protest action, held outside Odisha Bhawan in New Delhi, initiated by New Socialist Initiative to condemn the continuing State repression and brutal attacks on the struggle against forcible land acquisition for a POSCO steel plant in Odisha, activists and representatives of various democratic and progressive organizations participated including those of Sanhati-Delhi, JNUSU, POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity Delhi, All India Students' Association, Democratic Students Federation, CPI-ML (Red Flag), People's Union for Democratic Rights, The New Materialist - JNU, Students for Resistance, Democratic Students Union, INSAF, All India Federation of Trade Union (New), SRUTI, Shramik Dunyia, All India Students Federation among others.

While addressing the gathering representative of various organizations reiterated the fact that in the continuum of brutal attacks on the struggle against forcible land acquisition for a POSCO steel plant in Odisha, the most recent case of repression has been the unlawful arrest of POSCO Pratirodh Samgram Samiti (PPSS) leader Abhay Sahoo from Bhubaneshwar airport by Odisha Police. This arbitrary arrest is clearly a part of the ploy to destabilize the People's Movement that has been fighting against the forcible land grab by Odisha/Central Government on behest of corporate interest (in this case POSCO).

Asit Das (POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity) appraised the protesters about the tensed situation that prevails in the movement area. Following Asit Das, among others, Subhash Gatade (Convener New Socialist Initiative), D. Manjit (Secretary, PUDR), Jai Sen (Senior activist and author), P.K Sahi (veteran trade unionist), Piyush Raj (Jt. Secretary JNUSU) addressed the gathering.

A memorandum was handed over to the Joint Resident Commissioner (JRC), Odisha Government, New Delhi. The protesters  reminded that this was the fourth petition handed over to him in last two months; the protesters also conveyed to the JRC that if a response (to the petitions) are not given by his government within a month, there is a strong possibility that an indefinite sit-in demonstration will be held outside Odisha Bhawan in New Delhi.

Below is the text of the memorandum and the list of signatories:

The Chief Minister,

The Resident Commissioner,
Odisha Bhavan, New Delhi

Dear Sir Patnaik,

We representatives of various democratic organizations and individuals, have assembled today to register our strong protest and condemnation about the actions of the Odisha State Government against the villagers of Dhinkia, Patna, Gobindapur, Nuagaon and Gadkujang villages in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha who have been resistingthe corporate aggression and environmental destruction by the multinational steel against POSCO and brutal repression by your government over the last eight years. It is not the first time that we have assembled here in protest, neither is this the first message from civil society organizations and conscientious individuals addressed to you regarding this issue. However, you have not paid heed to our concerns and protests against the blatant resource - grabbing by POSCO and human rights violations by your government.

Over the last eight years, the people of the villages have been subjected to forcible land acquisition, loss of livelihoods, brutal attacks by the police and company-sponsored goodas, thousands of of false cases and arbitrary arrests, and a virtual state of siege which had prevented most of them from leaving the villages for work or even for basic necessities such as medical treatment and education. Incidents have happened in which a person taking his sick child to the hospital has been arrested on the way, and the child abandoned on the wayside. Women, who have been in the forefront of the resistance, have been especially targeted, with even elderly women being beaten up mercilessly and arrested by the police. Four people have been killed in bombing incidents by goondas, three of them Narahari Sahoo, Tarun Mandal and Manas Jena in March of this year. among these, Tarun Mandal's brother, Dula Mandal, was killed in another bombing incident earlier. Police has entered and made a camp in Govindapur village after a brutal lathicharge to disperse protesting villagers. Recently, Abhay Sahoo, the leader of the POSCO pratirodh Sangram Samiti spearheading the movement was arrested arbitrarily by the police and charged under multiple false cases. None of these has given a good name to Odisha, neither has it contributed to the development of the state and the well-being of the people.

Although, the POSCO project does not have any legal standing now, as the MoU between the company and the Odisha government has expired, and the environmental clearance for the project is under suspension, over the past few months the Odisha government has reached new levels of aggression in the attempt to acquire land in the area and destroy the betel vine plantations, which are the major source of livelihood for thousands of people in this area. We strongly urge you to immediately desist from these activities which are extremely detrimental to the economy and ecology of the affected villages, and the lives and livelihoods of the villagers. We therefore demand:
  • Immediate withdrawal of police forces from Gobindapur village
  • Stopping of all land acquisition and betel vine destruction for the illegal POSCO project
  • Cancellation of the resource-grabbing and environmentally destructive POSCO project
  • Release of all prisoners and the withdrawal of all false cases
Signed by:

  1. V. Arun (AISA)
  2. Vishal (AISA)
  3. Abhisek (AISA)
  4. Devika (DSU)
  5. Gogul (DSU)
  6. Snehil (DSU)
  7. Amrapali Basumatary (New Socialist Initiative)
  8. Piyush Raj (JNUSU, Jt. Sec.)
  9. Anubhuti Agnes Bara (JNUSU, SSS Councillor)
  10. Ashutosh Kumar (JNUSU, SIS Convener)
  11. Suraj Beri (The New Materialist - JNU)
  12. Ruchira (DSF)
  13. Naveen Chander (New Socialist Initiative)
  14. Kishor (New Socialist Initiative)
  15. Ashu Chauhan (NAPM)
  16. Nishant (DSF)
  17. Mritunsay (SRF)
  18. Mayur (DSF)
  19. Kacho Fayaz (DSF)
  20. Bonojit Hussain (New Socialist Initiative)
  21. Jai Sen (CACIM)
  22. Shweta Raj (AISA)
  23. B. Sreenivas Rao (New Socialist Initiative)
  24. Roopali Sinha (New Socialist Initiative)
  25. Sukruta Alluri (SRUTI)
  26. Dr. V. Prasad (New Socialist Initiative)
  27. Durgesh (AISF)
  28. Umakant (CPI-ML Red Flag)
  29. Usman (JNU)
  30. Manisha (SRUTI/DSG)
  31. Sunny (DU-AISA)
  32. V. K Sharma
  33. Jonsan (JNU)
  34. Asit Das (Posco Pratirodh Solidarity Delhi / New Socialist Initiative)
  35. Abhisek (AISA)
  36. Vidya (DSU)
  37. Sonam (JNU)
  38. Ankit (Radical Notes)
  39. Hem (DSU)
  40. P.K Shahi (AIFTU - NEW)
  41. Rakesh (NOWRUZ)
  42. Sushil Kumar (DSU-DU)
  43. D. Manjit (PUDR)
  44. C. Prakash (INSAF)
  45. Wasim Akram (AISF)
  46. Usman (DU)
  47. a. Jayadeep (AISF)
  48. Amit Kr. Maurya (AISF)
  49. B. Khaimarg (JNU)
  50. Praveen (New Socialist Initiative)
  51. Rajesh (Shramik Duniya)
  52. Rahul Maurya (AISF)


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