The people of Dhinkia in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha have risen in strong protest against Jindal Steel Works and for the protection of their land, lives and livelihoods. As directed by the Odisha government, there is heavy police repression and coercion being carried out for land acquisition which is becoming brutal and inhuman with the passing of each day. All constitutional rights and human rights of the people are under attack as they stand up to protect their land and livelihood. Betel vine plots of the villagers are getting broken and destroyed, which is their main cash crop. There is an atmosphere of terror and intimidation created by the administration where it seems like even more betel vine plots will be destroyed.
A delegation of the SKM-Odisha went to the area on 6 January to offer solidarity and investigate into the situation and events. The entire village is under siege literally since they have barricaded the three entries. Their lives, livelihood and mobility remain suspended due to the heavy deployment of Odisha police and IRB personnel with police camps all over.
To strengthen the morale of the villagers, the SKM-Odisha delegation went out on a peace march from Dhinkia along Mahala and Patana to have a look at the damaged betel vine plots. Hundreds of women, men and youth joined in as they had not been able to venture out and see the damage done to their betel vines. There were police all along the way. Also, there was a drone camera hovering above. At a meeting later in the evening, all members of SKM-Odisha offered support and solidarity to the struggling villagers.
In the press meet today, SKM-Odisha categorically stated how people are confined to the village. Police raids at night, detention of villagers in thanas and intimidation of others to sell their plots is rampant. Fabricated cases on countless villagers has created an atmosphere of terror. There are incidence of women being threatened in their homes by the police.
An SKM-Odisha delegation also met the Governor on 4th January and appealed that peace and normalcy be restored in the Dhinkia region by withdrawing all police forces from the area.
In the press meet today, SKM-Odisha put forward the following demands to the state government:
1. Withdraw all police force from the area immediately. Implement measures to restore people’s mobility and routine activities.
2. Withdraw all fabricated cases and release those arrested.
3. Stop the breaking of betel vines as it is the livelihood of the villagers.
4. Stop the JSW project in the area that is destroying an agrarian economy for corporate greed and profits.
5. Return to the people the 2, 700 acres of land that had been acquired for POSCO.
The SKM-Odisha Investigation Team comprised: SHASHIBHUSHAN SWAIN; SURESH PANIGRAHI; PRAFULLA SAMANTARA; MAHENDRA PARIDA; KHIROD SINGH DEO: BHALACHANDRA SADANGI; SRIKANT MOHANTY; PRAMILA BEHERA; NIRANJAN MOHANTY; JYOTI RANJAN MAHAPATRA; SANKAR SAHU; NARENDRA MOHANTY; ARUN JENA; RANJANA PADHI; DEBA PRASAD RAI; AND SUDARSHAN PRADHAN.
Note: Refer to newspaper clippings for backgrounder.