CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Thursday sought a report from the State government on the alleged police excesses on villagers opposing the proposed JSW mega steel project at Dhinkia in Jagatsinghpur district.
The plant site had turned into a battlefield on December 14 last year as villagers clashed with police over demolition of betel vines. On the day, the court took up for hearing two separate PILs - one filed by three lawyers and the other by five villagers of Dhinkia.
The division bench of Justice Jaswant Singh and Justice MS Sahoo directed the Jagatsinghpur Collector to submit a status report after one of the lawyer petitioners Kshirod Kumar Rout filed a fresh affidavit that was based on his visit to Dhinkia. While fixing January 31 for next hearing on the matter along with the status report, the bench also directed the Collector to ensure normalcy in Dhinkia and neighbouring villages.
In his affidavit Rout claimed that he had visited Dhinkia along with two social activists on Wednesday and interacted with some villagers who were assaulted by the police on December 14. His petition claimed that over 100 persons including women and children were injured in the clash and some of the injured persons were even scared to go to hospitals apprehending arrests.
Most of the male persons of the village have gone into hiding in the nearby forests or in houses of their relatives in other villages. The affidavit also named six injured persons between 46 and 72 years of age along with the nature of injuries received due to the lathicharge by the police.
The villagers have alleged that local police are forcibly demolishing their betel vines by detaining their family members and making them sign on blank papers and forms, Rout said in his affidavit. The PIL filed by the three lawyers challenged the high-handedness of the police and sought protection of human rights of the people protesting against the proposed plant.
The five villagers of Dhinkia in their petition sought direction to the authorities to withdraw force from Dhinkia panchayat and also withdraw all fake cases against the people who are protesting the land acquisition attempt.