Caught in the complex web surrounding the proposed mega steel plant near Paradip, common people including women and children are finding it hard to live a normal life at Dhinkia, the centre of anti-Posco agitation, in Jagatsinghpur district.
Elders are not able to move out to sell or supply their products in the nearby markets for fear of being caught by police while children including girls are keeping indoors for the same reason, locals said.
“We don’t know whom police will implicate on what charge.
They are keeping a strict vigil on our activities,” Manorama Khatua, an anti-Posco woman activist, said.
Dhinkia is one of the three gram panchayats in Jagatsinghpur district where Posco has proposed to set up its 12 million tonne steel plant at an expenditure of Rs 52,000 crore. The other two grampanchayats are Nuagaon and Gadakujanga.
Though the district administration had demolished betel vines without facing hardly any opposition in Nuagaon and Gadakujanga areas, it is facing stiff resistance in Dhinkia.
The administration had deployed 23 platoons of police force in the area on Friday to demolish the betel vines ahead of land acquisition. But stubborn villagers resisted the move by forming a three-tier human barricade, even as any assembly of people was declared unlawful.
However, keeping in view the ensuing three-day ‘Rajo’ festival (mostly observed by women) beginning from Tuesday, the administration has suspended land acquisition process in the area for five days.
Though land acquisition had been suspended, a large number of armed police remained deployed at Trilochanpur and Balitutha junction encircling the villages.
“At a time when the villagers would have relished different varieties of food, they are passing through a hard time having mere watered-rice and perched-rice to fend off hunger,” another villager said.
Deployment of a large number of armed police force had also affected sick and pregnant women who are unable to move out and are left to the mercy of quacks, Dhinkia’s suspended sarpanch Sisir Mohapatra said.
Dhinkia has only one homeopathy dispensary while government hospitals are located at Balitutha and Kujang. “Our people are afraid of going to Balitutha or Kujang due to heavy deployment of police there,” a villager said.
Meanwhile, people in Dhinkia, Trilochanpur, Gobindpur and Patana under Dhinkia panchayat has resolved to guard the gates put up by them.
Of the 4,004 acre of land required for setting up the Posco plant, 2,700 acre falls under Dhinkia gram panchayat.
Anti-Posco leader Abhaya Sahoo claimed that at least 25 people in the area had been maimed after being attacked by pro-project brigade while several injured in police action.
Altogether 146 cases were slapped on the villagers in the last six years besides new cases in the last two days, he said.