[Reader-list] POSCO's R&R offer to villagers - 6 crates of bombs and 75 swords?

Surya Dash dash.suryashankar at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 14:58:02 IST 2008

With the murder of Dula Mandal many conspiracy theories have come to a rest.
For instance, in the eyes of the district administration, the police and
certain sections of the media, the Posco Pratirod sangram Samiti led
movement against the POSCO project is being sponsored by Maoist groups. But
time and again and the pro POSCO groups have led murderous attacks on
villagers of Dhinkia & activists of Gobindpur which has now culminated with
the murder of Mandal. On 29 Nov, 07 a peaceful dharna by women of Dhinkia
and other villages at Balitutha was disturbed by an armed mob who resorted
to hurling crude bombs and attacking people with swords. The women had fled
for their lives with many falling into a river and almost losing their
Since then there have been many such attacks including one where an armed
pro Posco assailant's palm was chopped off by irate villagers of Dhinkia.
Though the incident was reported as an attack by PPSS the other side of the
story was that the injured man had been at the forefront of many attacks on
PPSS activists. On that day too he had been attacked after he had hurled a
crude bomb at a PPSS activist meeting. Instead of protecting the lives of
people locked in a struggle to save their land and livelihood the state has
rather resorted to giving a free hand to pro POSCO goons who attack and
murder freely.

The gang behind the murder of Dula Mandal might have been arrested by the
police but it was more of a rescue operation as they had already been
surrounded by hundreds of angry villagers. And now with the recovery of
bombs, swords and weapons inside the Gobindpur school premises the
allegations of PPSS activists has been vindicated - the attack that claimed
Mandal's life was pre planned. If they were simply holding a meeting what
were they doing with boxes of bombs and swords?The number of bombs and
swords recovered just goes to show what kind of preparedness the pro POSCO
goons have undertaken to push the project ahead. Not only that it goes to
show that they are nothing less than terrorists.

Many questions arise, if the PPSS is a Maoist outfit how come in three years
of struggle they have never attacked with bombs? If the pro POSCO faction
are simply locals who endorse the project then why haven't they simply
stopped at giving up their land and accepting the compensation offered? Why
are they waging an armed battle against PPSS? Who is providing them with
such arms and ammunition? And is it really true that all of them are local
supporters of the project and not seasoned criminals who know how to use
bombs and swords? Why has the police not made any attempt to contain the pro
POSCO faction's violence? There are 70 cases against Abhay Sahu but was
anyone arrested for the attack on 29 Nov at Balitutha? The women who
miraculously survived the vicious attack are yet to recover from the trauma.
Does the state not have any responsibility towards their protection and well
being? Why has the POSCO management been spared from all this? Is it
possible they are not involved in these attacks? Who is sponsoring the
criminals then? What is the role of local politicians and contractors who
will get plum jobs if the project happens?

Moreover the IAS officer who said in a TV interview 'the people have been
taught a lesson' after the 29 Nov bomb attack on women, Priyabrata Patnaik,
the former govt nodal officer of the POSCO project was not even questioned
for making statements to the press that are anti-constitutional. He had even
commented 'that the people would not dare to raise their voice again' to the
press which blatantly disrespected the constitutional rights of citizens of
India His links with gangsters has also been exposed with one dreaded
criminal, Raja Acharya openly alleging that Patnaik offered him a contract
job in the POSCO project. No inquiry has been made in this regard to find
out the nexus between bureaucrats and mafia though it is evident that such a
nexus does exist.

Pramod Meherda, the present collector of Jagatsingpur, is infamous for his
stint as collector of Rayagada where he had gained notoriety for the
repression of anti UAIL activists. His posting in Jagatsingpur is unlikely
to be an innocuous choice and the SP too has a similar track record in
Rayagada where he has even arrested journalists on false allegations of
being Maoist sympathisers. The presence of such officers in key posts is a
direct implication that the state is not just paranoid about Maoists but
rather uses the 'M' tag to take away the credibility of democratic movements
and facilitate repression.

Six boxes of bombs is a staggering figure as it can claim many lives and
then 75 swords is enough to wage a medieval war. Is this not enough for the
administration, police and media to stop calling PPSS a Maoist movement and
start calling the pro POSCO faction a deadly mafia gang? What kind of a
democracy is India then if armed goons are allowed to kill and bomb while
those who are fighting to retain their constitutional rights are termed
political extremists? The most important question being, who will protect
the villagers of Dhinkia...

Please see below for media report on the recovery of weapons.

On Fri, Jun 27, 2008 at 7:33 AM, Manshi Asher <manshi.asher at gmail.com>

> *PPSS claims recovery of arms from school*
> http://www.thestatesman.net/page.news.php?clid=9&theme=&usrsess=1&id=210313
> Statesman News Service
> JAGATSINGHPUR, June 26: Lawlessness reigned supreme in Govindpur village as
> anti-Posco activists, on the rampage since last week following the death of
> one of their activist Dula Mandal, today confined two persons and claimed
> recovery of huge cache of weapons and bombs from Govindpur school premises.
> The Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samity (PPSS) activists claimed to have made a
> break through to the assault and murder of Dula Mandal. We confronted a
> pro-project activist Mr Narottam Mohanty, confined and interrogated him,
> they said.
> Some of the anti-Posco activists then assaulted schoolteacher Mr Jadumani
> Das to ascertain as to who had attacked Mandal. Basing on the information
> provided by Mr Mohanty and Mr Das, they raided the school premises and
> claimed to have recovered six boxes containing country bombs, 75 swords and
> other weapons.
> It may be noted here that Mandal and other anti-Posco activists had clashed
> near the Govindpur primary schools premises on 20 June. Bombs were hurled
> and Dula Mandal died in the attack.
> The PPSS which is observing a Black Week since 22 June, had alleged that it
> was a pre-planned attack by goons who had been hiding at the school. The
> counter version was that a pro-project faction was holding a meeting at the
> school when their rivals started pelting stones leading to the violence.
> Police had arrested 22 people in this connection with the clash even as
> PPSS activists aggressively held a meeting attended by CPI leader Mr AB
> Bardhan and leaders of all Opposition political parties.
> The arrests and police action had irked pro-project activists who said that
> strangely the administration was behaving like stooges of the PPSS. No
> action has been taken against PPSS leaders including their chief Mr Abaya
> Sahoo despite the fact that over 70 cases are pending against them.
> They also pointed out that PPSS activists had indulged in goondaism for
> over two years and one and half months ago they chopped the palm of a
> pro-project activist. Yet nobody was arrested. People have lost faith in the
> administration and are only trying to defend themselves, remarked
> pro-project activist.
> Today, however the PPSS was in a belligerent mood, claiming that it had now
> established that pro-Posco activist, backed both by the company and the
> administration had armed themselves and planned the attack of 20 June in
> which Dula Mandal had died.
> The revelation by the school teacher and the recovery of weapons and bombs
> has established this, they claimed while stating that they will hand over
> the arms to the police. Tension gripped at Govindpur village and the PPSS
> activists set fire to bags and other material provided by the steel company
> to the school.
> In fact since the death of Dula Mandal, anti-Posco activists have allegedly
> set fire to two houses of pro-project activists. Anti Posco leader Mr Babuli
> Rout said that they had informed Kujang police about the recovery of arms
> from the school and a police team led by IIC Mr Anil Mishra have reached the
> village.
> In a related development at Bhubaneswar, the Kujang district Bar members
> have petitioned the state human rights commission seeking its intervention
> as human rights of people living in the proposed Posco project site villages
> have been violated. Innumerable instances of violation of human rights take
> place in the area almost on a daily basis and this has been happening since
> last two years.
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