Amidst claims by Orissa government that it had cleared the road connecting the proposed POSCO plant site near Paradip, anti-project activists on Sunday accused police of setting fire to their tents and mercilessly beating up elderly women and children.
"The police personnel set fire to our tents where we were holding democratic agitation against the South Korean steel company's proposed mega plant since January 26," POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti's (PPSS) women's wing head Manorama Khatua said.
"It is generally anti-socials who set fire on houses. But here, police did the job of anti-socials," she said, adding elderly women and children were beaten on Saturday without any provocation.
Senior police officials have, however, denied the charge.
"We do not know who set the tent on fire. I suspect the agitators themselves set fire on the tent before leaving the place," Jagatsinghpur SP Debadutta Singh told PTI, adding the district police were investigating the incident.
Singh also claimed there was no casualty or serious injury during the yesterday's operation during which police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas and batons to clear the road to Balitutha in the face of opposition put up by more than 1,000 people.
Reports on Saturday said at least 30 people were injured in the police action, which took place when at least 50 crude bombs were thrown at them.