Anti-Posco leader arrested, sent to jail
Bhubaneswar/Paradip: Anti-Posco leader Abhay Sahu was arrested on Saturday in connection with several cases, including a bomb blast in which three people had been killed at the proposed steel plant site in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district.
After being arrested from Bhubaneswar by a police team from Jatatsinghpur, Sahu was taken to Kujanga near here and produced before a court which remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days, police said.
"Sahu, who was to leave for Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, was arrested from Bhubaneswar by a police team shortly before (the) departure of his flight," Deputy Superintendent of Police (Paradip) Bhabani Shankar Mishra said.
Acting on information, the police team had reached the state capital and arrested the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) leader before taking him to Kujanga near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, the DSP said.
Jagatsinghpur Superintendent of Police Satyabrat Bhoi said Sahu's arrest had no link with the ongoing work for Posco project. He said the anti-Posco leader was arrested under different provisions of the IPC and Explosives Act.
There are a total of 55 cases of different nature against Sahu, he said, adding that the PPSS leader had obtained bail in 53 cases and the arrest was made mainly in connection with a bomb explosion at Patana village which had claimed three lives on March 2 this year.
Claiming that he was implicated in false cases, Sahu said he was to leave for Coimbatore yesterday to attend a conference but had deferred his visit as his son-in-law fell ill and was hospitalised.
Vowing to continue the fight against the mega project proposed by the South Korean steel major, the PPSS leader said he was to take a flight to Chennai to attend the conference but police arrested him before his departure.
Sahu, who has been leading an agitation under the banner of PPSS against the mega steel project since 2005, has been arrested earlier also in connection with various offences.
Sahu's arrest came amid efforts by the district administration to speed up land acquisition by dismantling betel vines and felling trees besides initiating the process of constructing a boundary wall around the acquired area.
The administration was taking measures for development of Dhinkia grampanchayat, considered to be the epicentre of the anti-Posco agitation, and the people of the area were also in touch with them, sources said.
Sahu said his arrest would provide a fillip to the anti-Posco agitation and the people would not relent or get cowed down by "repressive" measures.
"With this, I have been arrested three times. The agitation will continue in my absence till Posco leaves the area," he said.
Secretary of PPSS Sisir Mohapatra said Sahu's arrest would not affect the morale of the agitating people in the area and rather it would help them fight for their right with much vigour.
"There is no dearth of leadership to continue the anti-Posco agitation," Mohapatra said.
Meanwhile, CPI condemned the arrest of Sahu and said it would intensify the battle against the mega steel project proposed by Posco.