Police cracks down on anti-Posco protesters, 30 hurt | india | Hindustan Times
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Police cracks down on anti-Posco protesters, 30 hurt

Police today fired rubber bullets and teargas shells to evict protesters-- mostly women and children -- opposing the setting up of POSCO steel plant from the entry point of the project site at Balitutha, leaving 30 people injured.

india Updated: May 15, 2010 18:53 IST

Police on Saturday fired rubber bullets and teargas shells to evict protesters-- mostly women and children -- opposing the setting up of POSCO steel plant from the entry point of the project site at Balitutha, leaving 30 people injured.

The police ordered the 1000-odd protesters who are opposing land acquisition for the plant to leave immediately but had to crack down when 50 crude bombs were thrown at them, Jagatsinghpur Superintendent of Police Debadutta Singh claimed.

The protesters under the banner of CPI-backed Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) have been staging a dharna at Balithutha since January 26, blocking entry to the area. Prohibitory orders were clamped around Balitutha, 20 km from Paradip, and around 1500 policemen deployed as part of Orissa government's efforts to begin forest survey and land acquisition at the plant site.

"The people, who were on dharna at Balitutha defying prohibitory orders, have been evicted," Singh said.

He did not reply to allegations that the temporary camps of protesters were set ablaze by the police.

Police used baton, teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the anti-Posco agitators, Inspector General of Police, Central Range, SK Upadhaya said.

Some people received minor injuries in the police action, he said, adding, 11 persons were also arrested.

"Our next target is obviously Dhinkia village, epicentre of the anti-Posco agitation," Upadhaya said.

The police will remain in the area till officials survey the forest area and land is acquired for the proposed mega steel plant, he said.

"We have been successful in restoring law and order at Balitutha being held by anti-project activists since January 26," Jagastsinghpur district collector NC Jena told reporters.

Earlier, local CPI MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai, Congress leader Umesh Swain and Jayant Biswal were arrested as a preventive measure. Former CPI MLA Narayan Reddy, however, joined the agitators at Balitutha.

Terming his arrest as "undemocratic", Tarai said he was only proceeding to the area to learn about people's problem as it falls under his constituency Jagatsinghpur.

CPI state secretary Dibakar Nayaka accused the administration and police of acting in "undemocratic and arbitrary" manner. He said the party would launch a state-wide agitation against it.

Justifying Tarai's arrest, Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout said anyone obstructing government officials in performing their duties should be booked.

"Be it an MP, MLA or minister, everyone should abide by the law," Rout said.

Apart from the security personnel, the administration had deployed six magistrates, four ambulances and two fire tenders at Balitutha prior to the operation, police added.