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50 arrested for vandalising sponge iron plant in Odisha

Policemen outside the sponge iron plant in Sundergarh district of Odisha on Monday.

Policemen outside the sponge iron plant in Sundergarh district of Odisha on Monday.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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Villagers alleged that land was being acquired without consent of Gram Sabha

The police in Odisha’s Sundargarh district have arrested about 50 people, mainly proponents of the Pathargadi movement – a campaign for declaring certain geographical territories as self-governed by installing stone plaques – for vandalising a sponge iron plant.

Angry villagers pulled down the boundary wall of the plant belonging to Suraj Product Limited and forcibly entered the premises on Monday.

They alleged that the company was acquiring land without the consent of the Gram Sabha concerned in Rajgangpur block.

The police dispersed the agitating people and deployed two platoons to bring the situation under control.

Violence had erupted on June 19 following the murder of a person who opposed the Pathargadi movement in Telegana village under the Kutra police station limits.

Green plaques

Villagers, mostly tribals, involved in the Pathargadi movement install plaques painted in green to declare self-rule in their territory and prohibit outsiders them from entering the village. The message on the plaque is generally excerpts from the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, which deals with responsibilities of the Gram Sabha.

The movement had originated in Jharkhand which shares its border with Odisha’s Sundargarh district. According to an estimate, more than 300 villages in 10 of the 17 blocks in Sundargarh have been declared as self-governed territory.

“The concept of Pathargadi had taken root in 2013-14. It picked momentum very recently. We have been trying to keep the situation under control. But the movement in the district is mostly influenced by their counterparts in Jharkhand,” said Kavita Jalan, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Rourkela), over phone.

“The District Collector had called a meeting on June 20 and urged all elected representatives to make people aware about the clauses of PESA that has no provision for a separate independent territory within a State,” Ms. Jalan said.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 12:02:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/50-arrested-for-vandalising-sponge-iron-plant-in-odisha/article24256149.ece

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