Police in Orissa Shunting local Communities Out - that's POSCO!
In a live update around 3.10 pm IST aired on 11th June 2011 by NEWSX (an English news television channel in India) the local superintendent of police shamelessly termed the peaceful protests against POSCO by people in Dhinkia, "immoral". Importantly, women and children braved the scorching sun to save their land. It is obvious that the government and others favouring POSCO are greedy cowards who will resort to worse methods to try to achieve their ends. "It is crucial for us to remember that the residents of Dhinkia are fighting to protect the commons", remarked Leo Saldanha, the co-founder of Bangalore based Environment Support Group (ESG). After visits and investigations at the proposed site of the POSCO plant, Saldanha, PUCL activist and lawyer V. Suresh and noted film maker K P Sasi shared Tales of Betrayal, Treachery and Subversion at a discussion titled POSCO Fiasco. This was organized in Bangalore on 19th June 2011 by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and ESG.
In the interim, the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) is requesting everyone to express solidarity with the courageous people of Dhinkia. Here is its relevant appeal:
"On 10th and 11th June 2011, a thousand police besieged the Gram Panchayat of Dhinkia in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa to crush the resistance to the POSCO steel plant. On both days, for the entire daytime, thousands of people sat in the heat. Many people (including children) and even two policemen fainted. The Collector declared their protest "unlawful" and subsequently loudspeakers blared threats about use of tear gas, lathi charges, "those engaging in unlawful protests being dispersed", etc. continuously for four hours. Being unable to break the protest the police withdrew on both days. Meanwhile, demolition teams sneaked past the protesters from behind, trying to clear their betel vine sheds.
Dhinkia Gram Panchayat, where the crisis is occurring, contains around 2/3 of the land sought by the steel plant and the majority of those affected. Defeated for two days in a row, the police announced a suspension of operations until the 17th, ostensibly on grounds of a local festival. The people are rebuilding the destroyed sheds and maintaining a watch during this period.
It is worth remembering that this horrific attack comes at a time when two cases by the villagers are pending in the Orissa High Court, and when there is a criminal complaint against the District Collector for lying and fabricating the evidence that was the basis of the clearance to take the land. It also comes after three official committees found the land grab to be illegal and in violation of the Forest Rights Act. Further, international experts exposed that the project has no benefits for the local or national economy (while providing a minimum profit of Rs. 1,95,000 crores to POSCO). And, there is not even a valid memorandum of understanding between the government and the company, yet the attack is continuing.
In this situation it is vital that those of us who believe in democracy and justice in this country show our support for the just struggle of the people of the proposed POSCO project area. In particular, there is a need for people to go to the area to act as witnesses and supporters against the police operations. Therefore we particularly request that where possible, individuals and organizations consider:
a. Sending delegations to the area to visit and stay in the villages
b. Mobilize financial support for people to go
c. Publicize the issue and release statements of condemnation against the brutalities of the government".