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16 May, 2010

Anti-POSCO movement: Chronology of events

Below is a chronology of events in Orissa where more than 100 villagers were injured, five of them seriously, and 18 persons, including five women, were arrested by the police yesterday during a peaceful protest against the Posco project. It has been prepared by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS)

8.30 PM: PPSS President Abhay Sahu appealed to everybody to extend immediate support for the treatment of the injured people. Also, he requested all concerned and well-meaning people to extend their solidarity for the causes of people in struggles.

8.20 PM: Information received from PPSS activists from Dhinkia that about two Activists named Natha Swain (32 male from Nuagan) & Ramesh Das (35 male from Dhinkia) are critically injured with metal bullets. Immediate Medical Care is needed for them as they lost a lot of blood so far. All roads to anti POSCO Villages are blocked & sealed by Police. There is no way to get medical support /go out of the Village because of the police blockade. Among the 100 persons injured persons more than 60 percent are women or children.

6.10 PM: Manorama Khatua, woman leader, PPSS informed that women were mercilessly beaten up by male police.The situation is under tense. 5 persons are seriously injured. Injured people are not able to access for medical treatments.

5.00 PM: An alliance of some people’s organizations and activists organized a protest Dharna in front of the Governors’ House against police atrocity at Kalinga Nagar (TATA)and Balitutha(POSCO).

4.00 PM: Information reached that Police have blocked all the roads to the proposed site and the people are forced to remain inside their villages. Outsiders are not allowed to enter into the area.

3.15 PM: More than 100 persons got injured by teargas shell and police firing. 18 persons including 5 women got arrested. The houses, shops, sheds, tents belonging to local people in and around dharna location were burnt down by the Police.

3.10 PM: News came in local TV channels that CPI has called for a 12 hours Kujang Bandh (shut down) in protest of police atrocities and arrest of its leader and activists, which was confirmed from CPI state office.

2.30PM: Police version: people threw country bombs at the police therefore the forces retaliated! PPSS version: it’s a blatant lie. Company deployed anti-socials and some pro-POSCO leaders joined with the Police, threw bombs to mislead the democratic and peaceful movement.

2.25 PM: After tear gas, rubber bullets, the police started firing with real ones.

2.10 PM: Police action started against the people by throwing tear gas & rubber bullets from 100 meter distance.

1.43 PM: The district collector and superintendent of police made announcements over microphone asking people to disperse immediately or else face the action.

12.00: Around 50 activists of All India Youth Federation, All India Students’ Federation & Communist Party of India demonstrated before the Police Commissioner office at Bhubaneshwar. They were arrested and later released.

11.38M: Standing at 20 meters’ distance from Dharna place was taking positions and waiting for orders to fire.

10.45 PM: Congress ex-MLA Umesh Swain on his way to Balithuta was detained at Kujang police station.

10.40 AM: About 600 pro-POSCO people joined the anti-POSCO camp and participated in the resistance.

10.38 AM: At Balithuta, numbers of villagers have swelled up from 600 to 3700. Villagers were in no mood to retreat, more people joined from Nuagaon, which was earlier considered as pro-POSCO area.

10.36 AM: Section 144 of IPC was introduced in the areas covering 3 kilometer radius of Balitutha. Police warned people to leave the place within 10 minutes.

10.15 AM: There is spontaneous protest of the people in front of Paradeep Police station and Kujang against the illegal detention of the MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai. At Balithuta, numbers have swelled up. There are about 3700 villagers facing 1500 or so armed police. Villagers are in no mood to retreat, more people are joining from Nuagaon panchayat .

10.07 AM: D. Raja, Politburo Member, CPI informed that he has spoken to Orissa Chief Minister. The CM told him that he would enquire to the matter and assured that no force would be used.

9.45 AM: Condemning the aggression by the Naveen Patnaik Government, Prasant Paikray, the spokesperson – PPSS told, ‘the chief minister is directly implementing the police operation through his Principal Secretary, who is issuing instructions to SP and District Collector.

9.25 AM: Appeal made to concerned citizens to call SP (-Debadatta Singh)'s mobile no-09437094678 urging him not to use force. Responding calls of human rights activists, political leaders, environmentalists, journalists, advocates, film-makers from across the country, he informed - ‘POLICE HAS COME PREPARED TO USE FORCE AGAINST THE PEOPLE’.

8.57 AM: District Collector and Police Superintendent spearheaded police in 15 Vehicles towards dharana place.

7.00 AM: Around 600 villagers sat in dharna place at Balithutha . Police vans arrived at the dharna place

4.00 AM: Bibhu Prasad Tarai, Member of Parliament (MP) of Jagatsinghpur from CPI was detained and put at Circuit house at Kujang at 2AM (mid-night of May 15) on his way to Dhinkia.

May 14, 2010 – Police made flag-march from Kujang to Balitutha.

May 11, 2010 - 25 platoon of Police forces, 5 ambulances and 3 magistrates enter into the area and forcefully occupied the nearby school campuses.

May 3, 2010: Bijay Kumar Patnaik, IAS, Principal Secretary to CM returned back from South Korea after 15-days’ visit. PPSS leader Abhay Sahu alleges that on behalf of Chief Minister, he has represented to settle the ‘deal’ with POSCO Company and the entire cost of his visit was borne by the POSCO

For more information, please contact: Prasant Paikray, Spokesperson, PPSS, and Cell: 09437571547

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