Other States

Nerve centre of anti-Posco movement may get a poll booth

Residents have been stoutly resisting the proposed steel project by the South Korean company

Dhinkia, the nerve centre of anti-Posco movement, which was out of bounds for government agencies including police for past several years, may see setting up of a polling booth during forthcoming elections.

Only recently police teams have managed to enter the village where residents have been stoutly resisting the proposed steel project by the South Korean steel company. The breakthrough came when police, as part of the poll preparation exercise, met villagers and sought to know if they were willing to have a polling booth in their village this time.

“Villagers have given their consent for the setting up of a polling booth. We are carrying on the confidence-building measures in the village,” said Jagatsinghpur district Superintendent of Police Satyabrata Bhoi over phone on Monday.

Last election (2009), when people’s resistance to Posco’s steel plant was at the peak, a polling booth could not be set up at Dhinkia. Villagers were requested to cast their votes in a booth at Trilochanpur, six to seven kilometres away from their homes. Many villagers had not voted last time fearing arrests as hundreds of warrants were pending against their names.

Several reasons could be attributed to change in stance this time around. The resistance to the proposed plant seems to be on the wane. Besides, many agitating villagers want to register their protest by opting the ‘None Of The Above’ option being introduced this time.

“We are not against setting up of polling booth at Dhinkia. However, we have not taken any decision whether to participate or boycott the election. Most of the villagers are apprehensive that they would be arrested if they come out in the open for voting,” said Prasant Paikray, spokesperson of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which has been spearheading people’s resistance against the steel project.

Mr. Paikray claimed, “In around 260 cases, 2,000 to 2,500 residents of Dhinkia, Patna and Gobindpur villages are facing arrests. About 500 of them are women. These cases were slapped on villagers for their years-long resistance against forcible land acquisition. If this hostile situation persists, villagers might stay away from voting like the year 2009.”

Jagatisinghpur SP, however, differed with the view of PPSS. “The figure on pending arrest warrants is being exaggerated. Not more than 100 villagers in 50 to 60 cases are wanted,Mr. Bhoi said.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 4:26:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/nerve-centre-of-antiposco-movement-may-get-a-poll-booth/article5749779.ece

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