Kids join Posco stir: 'No point studying if our land is gone'

FP
Land acquisition for Korean steelmaker Posco's 12 million tonne steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district may get delayed further after the district administration was forced to withdraw a posse of police from the village where land acquisition started this Sunday.

At Gobindpur village, where the Orissa government is planning to acquire 700 acres of land, now under encroachment of villagers since last several decades, the police ran into a wall of villagers who surrounded them demanding their immediate return. "Pherijao, pherijao (go back, go back)," hundreds of children and women, led by CPI national secretary and MP D Raja, shouted near the police camp at the village. "We don't want Posco in our area. We would rather die than work as a labourer in Posco plant," said Pratima Biswas, who alleged that she was thrashed by the police on February 3.

The villagers were particularly angry over the police oppression on February 3 when the policemen allegedly rained blows on children and women. Villagers pointed out how sisters Suni Parmanik (8) and Sunayna Parmanik (7) were allegedly kicked by policemen even though they had no role in the anti-Posco protest.

On Thursday most of the children bunked classes as they thronged the dharna place on a sand dune. "What is the point of studying if our land is gone," said Prashant Jena, a class V student of Dhinkia Upper Primary School, who was allegedly kicked by policemen on February 3. At Gobindpur Upgraded Middle English School, the attendance was 50 against a strength of 200-odd.

Though local tehsildar tried to justify the presence of police saying they were "meant for law and order", the police had to retreat in the face of anger. "Why do the police need to be in Gobindpur? Their presence is escalating the tension," said Raja.

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