|POSCO opponents take up arms in Orissa|
Jagatsinghpur/Bhubaneswar, Dec 2: Coming under the banner of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, hundreds of villagers on Sunday participated in a procession in the area earmarked for POSCO-India's mega steel plant project in Orissa Jagatsinghpur district.
The agitating villagers, including a sizeable number of women and children, were armed with lathis, spears, bows and arrows and other sharp weapons.
Raising slogans against the state government and the South Korean company, the villagers marched through several hamlets in Dhinkia gram panchayat and adjoining villages to show their unity and strength.
The protestors also criticised the role of the local Biju Janata Dal legislator Damodar Rout for instigating people from nearby areas to attack their men.
The march ended with a meeting where their reiterated their resolve to continue their opposition to the State government's move to acquire land for the steel project.
Abhay Sahu, president of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, told presspersons at Dhinkia that the villagers were left with no other option except taking up arms in the wake of the Thursday's attack on them by hundreds of people who claimed to be supporters of the project.
"So far the people were agitating peacefully. The Thursday's incident has compelled them to take up arms for protecting their life, land and livelihood sources," Sahu said.
At least 18 persons, mostly those opposing the steel mill project, were injured when a large number of people descended at Balitutha and hurled crude bombs on those sitting on a dharna against land acquisition in the area and them.
The opponents are now apprehensive about further attacks on them by the proponents of the steel project in view of the statements made by government officials that land demarcation work for the project were likely to begin shortly.
The deployment of additional platoons of police in the area has also added to their fear.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also told reporters in Bhubaneswar on Saturday that the government wanted the project to come up as per schedule.
The company has announced to perform the ground breaking ceremony of the project on April 1 next.