Even as land acquisition for the proposed steel project of Posco remained suspended at Gobindpur village in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha on Thursday, villagers staged a demonstration demanding complete withdrawal of the police from the locality.

Leading the protest, Communist Party of India leader D. Raja condemned the entry of police into Gobindpur during night on Sunday when land acquisition was resumed after a gap of more than a year, and demanded that police be withdrawn without delay to restore normality in the area.

Mr. Raja lamented that police personnel were still camping in the village despite the district administration’s announcement on Wednesday that police were being withdrawn.

Hundreds of villagers and leaders from various Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, joined the demonstration. Meanwhile, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leader Abhay Sahu’s fast entered the third day on Thursday. “I will continue the fast till the police are withdrawn completely from the area,” he said.

The authorities on Wednesday halted land acquisition and withdrew police from the site on the outskirts of Gobindpur where betel vineyards were being destroyed since Sunday after the villagers came face to face with them.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh was scheduled to visit Gobindpur on Friday to express solidarity with the villagers.