A national level fact-finding team comprising civil liberties groups and individuals on Sunday demanded a high level judicial inquiry into the bomb blast in a village near the site of proposed $12 billion (Rs 54 crore) plant of Korean steel major Posco in Odisha's Jagatsinghpur district that killed three anti-Posco activists and seriously injured another activist.
The team members, including 'Mainstream' editor Sumit Chakravartty, former Delhi University professor Manoranjan Mohanty and Meher Engineer, former direcor, Bose Institute, Kolkata, also demanded immediate withdrawal of police camp from the area, cessation of land acquisition for Posco's plant and compensation to the family of those killed in the bomb blast.
The bomb exploded on March 2 in the backyard of a house in Patana village under Dhinkia gram panchayat of the district, the nerve centre of anti-Posco movement about 200 km east of Bhubaneswar. Police claimed the three died while making bombs, while Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), spearheading anti-Posco movement, alleged pro-Posco people attacked them with the bombs.
Questioning the role of the police, the team members said it was strange for Jagatsinghpur superintendent of police Satyabrata Bhoi to announce through media that the activists died while making bombs, though no police personnel had visited the spot and done any investigation even after 15 hours of the incident.
"This is a clear dereliction of duty given the fact that two platoons are stationed within a distance of few minutes from the spot," Chakravartty said, after a visit to the area.
The team members said the area was like a conflict zone with the villagers in constant fear of harassment and arrest by the police and with their livelihood in jeopardy.
Tension prevailed in the area after the administration resumed land acquisition for Posco in February, but suspended due to fierce protest. A day after the death of the activists, the administration again started land acquisition but suspended it two days later.