Group clash erupts during HC committee visit to Dhinkia

Kujang: A mob clash erupted at Dhinkia village under Erasama block in Jagatsinghpur district during a visit by a 5-member lawyer committee from the Orissa High Court on Saturday.

A social activist and a leader, who had also gone to the scene, were allegedly heckled in the presence of the police and committee members.

Committee members were talking with villagers at the Phulakhai temple shrine when a zilla parishad candidate Pinaki Das and his supporter Manas Ranjan Das coming to a rally, a local Pramod Satpathy and his family members and relatives of imprisoned leaders attempted to break into the sanctuary and meet the committee members. The ZP candidate and his supporter left the scene after some villagers opposed their candidacy.

However, Manas Kar, Deba Swain and Pramod Satpathy along with some of his female family members tried to force their way into the temple.

The villagers prevented them by stating that the committee members are here only to meet the villagers and no one else.

However, Manas and others refused to listen to them, leading to a fight. The villagers brutally beat Pramod when he tried to force his way into the temple.

Two women and three children were also injured in the incident. The situation was brought under control after the intervention of the police.

The committee traveled to Dhinkia on Saturday to investigate alleged police atrocities against villagers who oppose land acquisition for a steel plant proposed by Jindal Steel Works (JSW).

The committee members later toured the village where the villagers alleged that they had failed to lead a normal life due to police excesses.

The committee members then called the Abhayachandpur IIC Jibanananda Jena and asked them not to arrest or harass anyone until the next court date in the High Court on February 23.

It is pertinent to mention here that three separate petitions have been lodged with the High Court seeking an independent and impartial investigation into police excesses against the residents of Dhikia village following the clash between the police and the Dhikia villagers during land acquisition for the proposed JSW project, January 14 and later.

On January 20, a High Court divisional bench consisting of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Patnaik, while conducting a hearing into the PIL filed by a Kuni Mallick and four others requesting an investigation by a panel consisting of A retired High Court judge, social activists and members of civil society in the police atrocities committed on the people of Dhinkia, have ordered the state government to lay down its record on the matter.

On January 31, Jagatsinghpur Collector filed a situation report with the Orissa High Court on the situation on the ground in Dhinkia village. Subsequently, the High Court had asked the applicants to lodge their opposition to the situation report presented by the government.

Notably, Dhinkia village is the proposed site of a 13.2 million tonnes per annum integrated steel plant by JSW. During the acquisition of land for the proposed JSW project on January 14 in the village of Dhinkia, a confrontation between the villagers and the police left more than two dozen villagers and five police officers injured.