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Fresh tension at Posco site

Bhubaneswar, June 2: Five days after beginning of talks between the state government and agitators against South Korean major Posco’s proposed steel plant, fresh tension erupted at the project site near Paradip port during survey work today.

Two anti-plant protesters were injured in police lathicharge while resisting the entry of survey teams into Nuagaon village under Kujang block of Jagatsinghpur district, around 110km from here.

The two injured have been identified as Natha Samal and Ajay Swain, said Abhay Sahu, the president of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, which has been leading the movement against Posco’s proposed mega steel plant since the past five years.

Sahu said the two injured persons had been taken into custody and detained at Kujang police station. “They are being tortured at the police station and their family members are not allowed to meet them,” he alleged.

Senior district police officers denied the charges of torture. “They were arrested for attacking the survey teams,” Jagatsinghpur superintendent of police S. Devdutt Singh told The Telegraph over phone.

Singh said the police had to intervene as a group of armed villagers had attacked the survey teams when they arrived at Nuagaon village to start the survey. Later, the mob dispersed and survey went on to be completed at Nuagaon, he said.

Six platoons of police forces were deployed during the survey.

The situation was “tense, but under control”, he said, adding that adequate precautionary measures had been taken to prevent any further untoward incident.

The survey, which started on May 25, will continue as per schedule, said a senior district official.

On the other hand, the samiti is determined to resist further survey. Samiti president Sahu said: “We will resist the survey and land acquisition till the last drop of our blood.”

He said a meeting was held today to prevent entry of survey team and police forces in Govindpur and Dhinkia villages, considered as bastion of anti-steel plant movement.

Five days ago, a preliminary dialogue between the district administration and the delegation of samiti had taken place in Cuttack under the chairmanship of revenue divisional commissioner (central division), P.K. Mohapatra. The next meeting will be held on June 5.

The anti-plant protesters today insisted that the survey should be stopped till the dialogue process was over. However, the district administration wanted to continue the survey work, irrespective of dialogue.

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