Tension gripped Kalinganagar in Orissa's Jajpur district once again on Monday when BJP leaders and workers were prevented from visiting tribal hamlets, where people are opposing road laying and construction of a six million-tonne Tata Steel project. Mobs chased away BJP leaders and workers.
BJP State president and former Union Minister Jual Oram was leading a team of 100-odd men and women, which was stopped by about 300 men supporting industrialisation. Several party workers were assaulted.
Mr. Oram's vehicle was damaged by the people who prevented the entry of the team into Baligotha village, where the police resorted to lathi charge and firing on March 30.
At least four local journalists were beaten up by the mob when they tried to take pictures of the BJP group being chased away and vehicles being damaged.
“Policemen from the Jakhapura station, just about 150 metres from the scene, did not intervene when about 300 people supporting the construction of a common corridor road abused us, beat up our party workers and damaged our vehicles,” Mr. Oram told a press conference on his return here from Kalinganagar.
“In fact, the road was supposed to be used not as a common corridor by many industries, but as a major passageway to the site earmarked for the proposed steel plant,” Mr. Oram said.
“Why not the government itself set up industries on land having no population,” he asked, demanding a halt to the alleged forcible acquisition of land for industries.
“Many of those who used force and threw stones at us were supporters of Finance Minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadai. They were armed with iron rods, sticks and pipes.”
Charging the Naveen Patnaik government with throwing all democratic norms to the winds in the cause of private companies at Kalinganagar, Mr. Oram demanded that politicians, representatives of mass organisations and journalists be allowed to visit Baligotha and other villages where police action against residents opposing displacement had reached a new high.
During their March 30 offensive at Baligotha, the police damaged the houses and other property of activists of the Bisthapan Birodhi Janamanch, which has been spearheading an anti-displacement agitation since January 2006.
A few days ago, teams of the BJP, the Congress and the Communist Party of India(Marxist) were denied entry into the area by the police.