“The history of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) shows that the movement has been non-violent and peaceful even when the state forces and goons have attacked them with ferocity on many occasions; the latest being on February 3rd,” NAPM said.
It stated that the movement has faced several instances of state repression, documented in a recently-released fact finding report titled, “Captive Democracy”. The report says that “230 cases had been filed implicating about 1500- 2000 villagers resisting POSCO between 2006 and 2012. Most of the complaints have left the number of accused open-ended, which allows the police to implicate any person in any case, despite not being specifically named therein. A large number of these cases have been filed by government officials during times of peaceful demonstrations by the members of the PPSS.”
Shri Abhaya Sahoo, president of the PPSS was arrested on two occasions and has over 50 cases registered against him, including cases when he wasn’t present in the villages on the day of the alleged offences. Manorama Kathua, President Women’s Wing of the PPSS, aged about 29 years has several cases filed against her. She has been unable to apply for bail due to financial constraints and has not left the village in 6-7 years. These are just few instances of arbitrary actions of the police and the impacts of the same, NAPM claimed.
Hence, NAPM felt it is unfortunate that the state is again trying to criminalise the movement and forcefully acquire the land. The sacrifices made by the activists to save their land and right to earn a dignified living must be respected. NAPM lamented that the actions of Orissa government are in complete violation of democratic norms and principles of justice.
As of now, the environmental clearance given by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on January 31, 2011 stands suspended by the order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) dated March 30, 2012. The project does not even have a memorandum of understanding with the state government now, with one signed on July 22, 2005 having lapsed. So, NAPM asked “what is the basis on which the state is acquiring land for the project?”
The nation needs an answer for this continued brutality and loss of life and livelihood, and constant harassment and complete disruption of normal life. People's movements from across the country stand in solidarity with the struggle of villagers of Jagatsinghpur, and condemn this “barbaric” action of the state government and company-sponsored goons.
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