Police arrest anti-POSCO leader for bomb explosion that killed four

People insist it was pro-POSCO goons from the village who threw bomb at protesters

 
By Anupam Chakravartty
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Abhay Sahoo, the person leading the stir against the proposed mega steel plant of South Korean steel company, POSCO, in Odisha, was arrested on Saturday for his alleged role in the March 3 explosions at Dhinkia village that killed four people. Sahoo heads the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), consisting of people displaced from villages in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha as a result of land acquisition for POSCO project. 

According to the superintendant of Jagatsinghpur police, Satyabrata Bhoi, Sahoo has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for murder, criminal conspiracy, causing explosion likely to endanger life and attempt to cause explosion or for making explosives to endanger life under Explosive Substances Act. Police officials say that they arrested Sahoo from Bhubaneshwar Airport on Saturday morning. 

On March 2, anti-POSCO activists, Narahari Sahoo, Nabanu Mandal, Manas Jena and Laxman Pramanik were killed  when a crude bomb hurled into the backyard of the house of a resident, Sura Nana, in Dhinkia gram panchayat, exploded. Dhinkia is the centre of the anti-POSCO movement. Police officials maintained that the deceased were preparing crude bombs inside the house of a village elder in Dhinkia to use in their demonstrations. However, anti-POSCO protesters have said that pro-POSCO goons from the village attacked them.

Timed arrest

PPSS alleges that the authorities held back from acquiring land in Dhinkia, the hub of the anti-POSCO movement, while attempting to weaken the movement. No government or police official has been posted around the periphery of the Dhinkia and Patana villages as the district administration is yet to start land acquisition.

Sahoo’s arrest comes four days after the Jagatsinghpur administration and the Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) began to build a boundary wall in Gobindpur village, destroying betel vines and fruit bearing trees of the local farmers. 

Sahoo's close aide, Prashant Paikary, a member of PPSS, said that since Sahoo's arrest not a single government official has come to the village to talk about land acqusition. “They have not started the acquisition of land near Dhinkia or Patana yet. However, Sahoo's arrest will only add fuel to fire when they come to Dhinkia to start acquisition of land,” Paikary said.  

At Gobindpur, 20 betel vines and 240 fruit bearing trees were destroyed by the local officials in the process of acquiring additional 700 acres (one acre equals 0.4 hectare) from the area for the POSCO steel plant. The district administration says that 540 acres out of the 700 have already been acquired and that the process is to be completed by May 25.  

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