PARADIP: Apprehending breach of peace in Dhinkia, villagers on Wednesday restricted a delegation of different political parties from entering the panchayat which has witnessed violent protests over the proposed JSW steel plant in the past.
A 13-member team of opposition parties headed by the leader of the social justice movement Prafulla Samantara reached Dhinkia to interact with villagers and study the ground realities after the alleged police excesses on anti-JSW protestors on January 14. However, the visiting leaders were stopped by villagers on Dhinkia-Patana road.
Hundreds of villagers under the aegis of Maa Phulkhai Surakhya Committee, which has thrown its weight behind the JSW project, blocked the road by staging a sit-in. Led by committee secretary Askhay Behera, the villagers restricted the leaders from entering Dhinkia. The visiting delegation reportedly appealed to the agitators to allow them to enter the panchayat to meet villagers who have been ‘victims’ of the alleged police brutality. However, all their pleas fell on deaf ears and they were forced to return.
Terming the incident as undemocratic, secretary of All India Forward Bloc Jyotiranjan Mohapatra said Dhinkia is perhaps the first village in the country to restrict outsiders from entering it. Addressing mediapersons, he said the delegation will meet Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the denial of their entry to Dhinkia. “We will chalk out our future plan of action after meeting the CM,” he added.
Village leader Nirvaya Samantray said outsiders are coming to Dhinkia to instigate villagers to intensify protests against the JSW project. After frequent incidents of violence, peace has returned to Dhinkia. “We restricted the leaders of opposition political parties from entering Dhinkia to maintain peace and harmony in the village,” he added.
Earlier this year, Dhinkia witnessed violent clashes between pro and anti-JSW villagers. Besides, villagers protesting the JSW project also clashed with police leading to several arrests.