MAC: Mines and Communities

Government Slammed For Firing-orissa

Published by MAC on 2006-05-21
Source: Statesman News Service ()

ORISSA

Govt slammed for firing

Statesman News Service

DHENKANAL

21st May 2006

The industrial rush-related violence rocked the state yet again following yesterday's bomb attack and firing on agitating villagers by persons engaged by a private steel company at a village in the district leading to the arrest of eight persons, including a vice-president of Bhusan Steel and Strips Ltd, today.Tall claims of "no forceful eviction" , "the best rehabilitation and resettlement policy" and "rehabilitation preceding industrial work" in the aftermath of the ghastly Kalinga Nagar police firing on 2 January in which 13 tribal protesters were gunned down, stood mocked by the violence here yesterday.
Shocked by goons attacking people of Sarapa and Raghunathpur villages with bombs and firearms and injuring several people, the district administration swung into action today arresting five officials of the Bhusan Steel & Strips ltd and other three persons.

The charge was that security personnel of the company, which was constructing a boundary wall despite protests from villagers and a request from the administration not to start work till both sides discussed at a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, along with some people allegedly engaged by United Construction Ltd, were involved in the attack yesterday. The company is said to be linked to Orissa Stevedores Ltd, Villagers have been opposing the construction of the boundary wall on the premise that it will cut off their approach to the national highway. They wanted the company to lay a connecting road around the proposed wall first and then go ahead with the work. The tussle has been on for a long time and the administration had requested the company to withhold the work till the meeting was held. But for some strange reason, the company went ahead with its work yesterday provoking the villagers. A clash ensued and the people engaged by the company were well prepared with bombs and firearms. Ten villagers sustained injuries when bombs were hurled at them.
Of the injured persons, one has been referred to SCB Medical College and Hospital, Cuttack. Those admitted to the hospital were identified as Ramesh Behera, Dhir Behera, Sunia Senapati, Sukhdev Behera, Nabakishore Patra, Digamber Parida and others.

Talking to reporters, the president of Sashitanu Nagar Unyan Mahsangha (a forum for seven villages affected by the proposed plant), Mr Raghunath Patra and other advisors alleged that Bhusan authorities had undermined the district administration as well as the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee. The company failed to keep its promise of periphery development work in terms of constructing a road, water sources, jobs and other benefits, he alleged.Even village cremation ground and grazing areas have been acquired by the company, they said.

District collector Mrs Usha Padhee, who promised to convene a meeting tomorrow on all these issues, said she would discuss the demands with the company officials and visit the affected villages. She asserted that the company had behaved in the most indisciplined manner and had preferred to go ahead with work without paying heed to the request by the administration to wait till tomorrow's meeting. Police revealed that the company had wanted to bulldoze its way with the help of a few other private players who are well known for their money and muscle power. "If you look at those who were involved in the bomb attack, you will get a clear picture as to who are behind it all," a senior police officer said.

The Orissa Gana Parishad condemned the dastardly attack on the villagers and held the government squarely responsible for the mayhem unleashed by industrial groups in the state which hire goons to get their works done. The government cannot escape responsibility by stating that the company or a contractor was involved in the fight because villagers had been protesting for a long time and it was the duty of the administration to safeguard the life and property of these villagers, the OGP said in a statement issued in Bhubaneswar today. It alleged that the company had close links with the chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik and instead of using police as was done in Kalinga Nagar, the understanding was to use private goons.

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