Violence At The Posco and Tata Sites in Orissa

Reports are coming in of police violence at the planned Tata steel plant site at Kalinga Nagar in Orissa. Around 24 people are thought to have been injured in clashes on 12 May between armed police and villagers who oppose being displaced for the plant. At least one person has died, Lakhsman Jamuda. His body has not been returned to the family.

Here’s a video that apparently shows the clashes:

This is an interview with the nephew of the man killed (both are courtesy of Radical Notes):

There has been violence here before. In January 2006, shortly after Tata started clearing the area, 12 villagers and one policeman were killed in clashes. There have been reports of low-level violence and intimidation over the past few months. The police say they are protecting those who have opted for displacement into new Tata-built villages. Many locals and activists say these operations are actually designed to destroy homes and forcibly evict those who oppose the steel plant’s construction. Amazingly, the state goverment denies the police were involved at all. 

Not far away in the same state, the ongoing protests against the £12 billion Posco steel plant, which I visited earlier this year, are also turning violent. The Hindu reports that over 100 people were injured when police charged the protesters who have been staging a sit-in on the edge of the site since January 26. Twenty-five platoons of armed police have apparently been moved into the area. Convincing local people to allow the steel project to go ahead is a major priority for the federal government after it promised South Korean Prime Minister Lee Myung Bak in January that local objections would be resolved in four to five months (Posco is a South Korean company). That means now.

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