The villagers opposing implementation of the proposed Subarnarekha port at Chaumukha in Balasore district of the State on Thursday held a meeting demanding immediate release of the 30 locals who had been arrested on December 30 while opposing public hearing for the project.

The meeting was held despite the police preventing many anti-displacement activists from reaching the meeting venue.

Those who were stopped by policemen on duty and anti-social elements allegedly engaged by a Chennai-based company that had planned to establish the port include activist Prafulla Samantara, former legislator Kishore Das and secretary of Balasore district unit of Samajwadi Party Bichitrananda Das.

Taking exception to the police instructions asking them not to proceed towards the protest meeting venue, Mr. Samantara criticised the administration for playing to the tunes of the private company which was trying it best to go ahead with the protest without paying any heed to the viewpoint of those opposing the port project.

The protest meeting, however, was addressed by former legislator Arun Dey, activist Arun Jena and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Pradipta Panda.

Thirty locals were arrested on December 30 after hundreds of people clashed with police while blocking the road in their attempt to prevent government officials reach the area selected for the pot project.

The agitating villagers had clashed with the police when police tried to clear the blockade to facilitate the public hearing for the proposed port project. Many villagers were injured when the police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.