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Mainstream, Vol XLVI No 46

Delhi Convention demands Release of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti Leader Abhay Sahu

Tuesday 4 November 2008


The following is a press release of the Delhi Convention on the release of Abhay Sahu and other activists of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, issued by Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, B.D. Sharma, Dr Usha
Ramanathan, Ashok Agarwal, Ravi Hemadri, Sumit Chakravartty.

Political parties and civil society groups, at a Convention organised in Delhi on October 24, expressed concern over the malafide arrest of Abhay Sahu and other activists of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and the increasing state repression in Orissa on the peaceful resistance of people against the anti-people steel project.

Abhay Sahu, the President of the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti), was arrested by the Orissa Police near Pattamundai in Jagatsinghpur district in the evening of October 12, 2008 while returning from a medical check-up. The police claims, to have registered as many as 25 ‘direct’ cases against him. In all he is implicated in over 70 cases. Speakers at the Convention noted that this was the latest attempt by the Orissa Government to undermine the anti-POSCO agitation. The Convention noted that while using force to repress the people’s democratic voice is not new to the State, this method of repression has reached another high point with the arrest of Abhay Sahu.

For the past three years, the people of Dhinkia, Gobindapur, and Nuagaon panchayats in the Kujang Tehsil of Jagatsinghpur district in Orissa, under the banner of the PPSS, have been relentlessly resisting the take-over of their resources for the establishment of a 12-million-tonne mega steel plant by POSCO, the second largest steel-making company of the world. The project, being touted as the largest ever FDI in the history of India, with an investment of Rs 51,000 crores, will have large-scale, irreversible socio-economic and environmental impacts not only on the areas under the threat of immediate acquisition but over vast numbers of the State’s people, and huge tracts of its forests and other lands. POSCO’s assertion that its project will lead to the creation of 45,000 jobs, directly or indirectly, is meaningless in the face of the fact that the proposed steel plant, port, and mines will directly dispossess several lakh people, apart from having very deleterious effects on the lives of many more. Further, an examination of the MoU signed by the Naveen Patnaik Government with POSCO establishes the fact that the government has agreed to transfer lakhs of crores worth resources for almost no returns to the state exchequer.

A Joint Declaration issued at the Convention noted that it is in exercise of their constitutional right to dissent, and the right to a life with dignity, which includes the right to a livelihood of their choice, that the people of Dhinkia, Gobindapur, and Gadakujang panchayats of Jagatsinghpur district in Orissa have put up a non-violent resistance for the past three years against the forcible takeover of their lands and resources by the Korean steel giant POSCO. The Declaration also noted that the police, after arresting Sahu, also simultaneously launched a malicious campaign against him through the already corporatised media. The sole object of employing such tactics is to prolong the process of Abhay Sahu’s release, and further intimidate people opposed to the project and such projects elsewhere in the State including Kashipur, Lanjigarh and Kalinganagar. The Convention unanimously demanded immediate withdrawal of the false criminal cases against Abhay Sahu and other activists of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and their immediate release.

The speakers at the meeting included Prashant Paikray (PPSS, Orissa), A.B. Bardhan (CPI), B.D. Sharma (Bharat Jan Andolan), Surendra Mohan (JD-S), Dr Usha Ramanathan (Legal Researcher), D. Bandyopadhyay (Former Land Reforms Commissioner, West Bengal), Aparna Sarin [CPI-ML (New Democracy)], Kanchi Kohli (Environmental Activist), N. Bhattacharya (Jan Hastakshep), Sudhir Patnaik (Journalist).

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