Thursday, December 6, 2007

POSCO: Fighting Fire With Fire

12.05.07 | By Shlok Vaidya | Comment?

Last week, a peaceful protest by the anti-POSCO PPSS was attacked by a 100-person strong crowd of armed villagers. Molotov cocktails and farming equipment were used to harass and injure the protesters.

Scared of Naxalite penetration, state law enforcement troops were deployed to ostensibly keep the peace but government leaders make no secret of their support of the violence:

"Thursday's violence would be the last clash there. Now the anti-POSCO people will not dare to raise their voice. This has proved that they are a minority there and most of the local people want POSCO for their development," says Orissa's Commerce and Transport Secretary Priyabrata Patnaik.

This commitment has since been solidified by pro-POSCO villagers even as police were at the scene:

  • A delegation of activists were prevented from even approaching the village at the center of the conflict. They were harassed and forced to return.
  • Anti-POSCO activists were denied permission to conduct a a hunger strike at the location of the violence of last week then driven out.

The PPSS reacted by arming themselves and conducting a public parade. The organization is armed with:

  • 30 firearms.
  • 50-60 crude bombs.
  • Bows, arrows and knives.

This is the problem with the controlled chaos approach: control over chaos is rarely retained by anyone, much less the government. The result is a protracted, dirty conflict along tribal/ethnic/economic lines. This instability prevents foreign investment and development from taking hold.

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