Odisha Police beat up Adivasi villagers

Tired of arbitrary arrests by police forces, villagers ask why dissenters are implicated in false cases

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In yet another example of police brutality, villagers from Dhinkia in Odisha were beaten up by the state police on December 20, 2021 during a mass demonstration, where the villagers were condemning institutional oppression.

Gathering near the Mahala villager border at 2 PM on Monday to decry state and police repression, protesters alleged they were blind-sided by sudden thrashings by police forces, who had entered the village unnoticed. Villagers Natha Samal, Prakash Jena, Bhramar Das and Lokanath Swain sustained severe injuries during the incident. Further, villagers alleged the police arbitrarily arrested Ajodhya Swain and Milirani Swain “without any reason”.

According to regional reports, the police and other administrative officials approached the revenue village for a demarcation drive. The Orissa Diary claimed that villagers too retaliated against the police beatings with stone-pelting.

Meanwhile, the anti-Jindal and POSCO movement leaders said, “The administration is using all means at its end to demoralise and divide people.  Abusing law and implicating dissenting affected people in false and fabricated cases seems to have become an acceptable norm these days.” They complained that day-to-day lives and activities are being hampered due to police presence near their villages and the contentious land where industrial and mining projects have been proposed. Accordingly, they demanded that the administration immediately withdraw police force from Dhinkia and ensure that normalcy is restored soon.

Earlier on December 4, a similar incident occurred where anti-Jindal and POSCO movement leader Debendra Swain was allegedly going to be arrested by police forces. Residents once again united to oppose the arrest which resulted in a severe lathi-charge.

About the anti-Jindal and POSCO movement

Years ago, POSCO withdrew its proposed steel project after facing fierce resistance from locals. However, instead of returning this land to the people, the state government put the area in a land bank where it was transferred to Jindal Steel Works Ltd. The company planned to build an integrated steel plant, a captive power plant and a cement factory.

Between August and November 2021, a fresh notification was announced for further acquisition of land, Panchayat hearings to ascertain people’s grievances and trifurcation of Dhinkia revenue village – all amidst heavy police deployment.

Already, the first wave of Covid-19 and cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’ had wreaked a severe economic crisis on people, especially betel-vine cultivators. At such a time, they also received anonymous application forms purportedly asking people to express interest in handing over their land and betel-vines to the company.

Villagers accused the government of ignoring their demand for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act-2006 since the time of the anti-POSCO movement. Earlier, the two centrally-instituted committees recommended that the forest land be distributed to the people, who will then decide if they want the project in the area.


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Tougher Than Steel: Odisha Community Rally Against Transfer of Their Land, Again

Human Suffering, Environmental Degradation: That’s What POSCO Produced In Odisha



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