Using kids made "illegal" in anti-Posco stir

Orissa government declared use of kids in anti-Posco agitation as illegal.

Updated: Jun 27, 2011, 19:58 PM IST

Bhubaneswar: Orissa government on Monday
declared "use of kids" in anti-Posco agitation as "illegal"
after redeploying force close to the dharna site at Gobindpur
village, the entry point to Dhinkia area.

Armed police force which had been withdrawn from
near the dharna site last week, was again deployed as the
state government decided to resume the land acquisition work
for the Rs 52,000 crore project soon, they said.

"We have asked the agitators to clear the road to
enable police and officials to move into Dhinkia area.

Preventing government officials from performing their duties
is unlawful," Jagatsinghpur SP Devadutta Singh said to a news agency adding
protestors should respect law of the land.

Chief Secretary BK Patnaik said, "It is illegal to
use children in the agitation."

Jagatsinghpur MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai, on the other
hand, justified children`s participation as "normal and
legal". "No one has forced children to take part. As their
parents are agitating, they come on their own," the MP said.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) however, dubbed
the state government`s move as "undemocratic" and "vulgar
display of force". "Our people are democratically protesting
at the Govindpur village border protesting the forceful land
acquisition for POSCO," PPSS president Abhay Sahu said.

Holding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik responsible for
redeployment of force near the dharna site, the PPSS leader
appealed to all to come to the rescue of the unarmed
agitators.

While hundreds of armed police were deployed near
the dharna site to terrorise agitators, a separate police
platoon (30 personnel) had entered into the village through
the forest route to demolish betel vines, Sahu alleged.

Meanwhile, tension resurfaced over POSCO land
acquisition with redeployment of force near the dharna site.
The police through public announcement system asked the
agitators to vacate the place and stop using children as
"shield".

While the anti-project groups have stepped up their
activities, the administration was forced to halt the ongoing
work at Polang area for the second day at the project site in
the face of agitation by pro-Posco people.

"We will also oppose the project if our six-point
charter of demands are not fulfilled," said United Action
Committee leader Tamil Pradhan.

Slogan-shouting youths, women and children marched to
Noliasahi-Polang area in the Nuagaon panchayat where the
boundary wall and rehabilitation colony were being built
and demanded halting of work.

Land acquisition has been `temporarily halted` since
June 21, while work on land already acquired was continuing.

Three vehicles being used for the work were forced by
villagers to drive to Nuagaon as about 200 armed police
deployed nearby did not intervene, Pradhan said.

Additional District Magistrate, Paradip, Sarojkanta
Choudhury said the agitation was unlawful as prohibitory
orders were in force in the area.

The imposition of prohibitory orders were announced
over public address system and the protesters asked to leave
or face police action.

Soumendra Nayak, samiti member of the Nuagaon
panchayat said since the government did not fulfil the six
demands made by pro-Posco Unified Action Committee (UAC),
people stopped the construction work.

The state BJP president Jual Oram visited the proposed
plant site area and expressed solidarity with the people
agitating against the Posco project.

PTI