Anti-Posco group leader held

Abhay Sahu, the lynchpin of the anti-Posco movement in Orissa, was arrested Friday evening near Paradip over his alleged involvement in several criminal cases including that of a dowry death.

Sahu, 54, is the head of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), a CPI-backed organisation that has been the main hurdle in the path of Rs 54,000 crore greenfield steel project by South Korean steelmaker Posco in Jagatsinghpur district.

Police officials in Jagatsinghpur said Sahu was arrested at Nuapokhari village around 7.45 pm over the suicide of a woman allegedly due to dowry demands. The woman's parents had alleged that their daughter's corpse was burnt hastily at the behest of Sahu. There were other cases against Sahu including that of atrocity against a Dalit.

Prashant Paikray, the spokesman for PPSS, said Sahu was arrested while he was returning from Paradip after making arrangements for a CPI conference there. "He has been implicated by the police to weaken the anti-Posco movement," he said. Sahu is a member of CPI's State Committee.

Sahu had led the movement against Posco from Dhinkia grampanchayat in Jagatsinghpur district preventing all attempts by the state government in acquiring land for the steel project. The locals have even prevented the construction of a coastal road from Dhinkia to Noliasahi. Though Orissa has so far acquired over 2000 acres of land of the 3700 acres needed for the project, work is yet to start as key parts of the steel plant are in the villages where the anti-Posco protestors have dug their heels in. This is the second time Sahu was arrested. In October 2008, he was arrested over pending criminal cases, but was granted bail in August 2009 by the HC.

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