Please find a press release from Independent Media on the arrest of Abhaya Sahoo, the leader of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. Also find an appeal letter to the CM of Orissa Navin Pattanaik condemning the repression against PPPS and the arrest of Abhaya Sahoo.
Wrong priorities: arresting peaceful anti-POSCO movement leader, while the Hindutva killers roam free in Kandhmal
The arrest of Abhaya Sahoo, the leader of PPPS, which has been protesting peacefully against the proposed POSCO project while killers and rapists are having a field day in Kandhamal, is the final nail in the credibility of Nabin Pattanaik's government. Abhaya Sahoo, who has been undergoing treatment for severe diabetes, was returning to Jagatsinghpur from Cuttack with his son, when police waylaid his vehicle at Bhutamundai Chhak and arrested him. A large number of false cases, including that of dacaity, have been filed against Abhaya Sahoo by the police and district administration. It is quite well known that Abhaya Sahoo has been instrumental in keeping the anti-POSCO movement peaceful in face of extreme provocation by police, pro-POSCO goons and supporters and the Company itself. Apparently, it was Abhaya Sahu who saved the lives of many pro-POSCO persons who attacked PPPS followers using bombs on June 21, 2008 and then were chased into a school building surrounded by angry PPPS supporters. Arresting him is a massive blunder by the state government. Immediately after his arrest, tension spread in Dhinkia and nearby village, and it is not known what the consequences of this arrest may be. PPPS supporters are gathering all over the place and there is strong possibility of violent retaliation in face of the arrest of their leader.
It is a shame that when Kandhamal is burning, the Government has had to go and light one more fire by arresting the leader of a peaceful people's movement. The GOO has utterly failed to control the Hindutva forces in Kandhmals, even in face of rapes and killings of minorities. In fact it almost seems that administration has encouraged hindutva forces to go on rampage in Kandhamal. Instead of arresting killers and rapists, Nabin Pattanaiks' priorities seem to be clear - to crush peaceful movements protesting the takeover of their lands and livelihoods by Companies like POSCO. One can only assume that appeasing Hindutva and corporate sector go hand in hand in this regime. Unfortunately, such ham handed measures will only ignite more fires, and without the presence of Abhaya Sahoo, one is afraid that a more violent phase of the anti-POSCO struggle will be precipitated.
Independent Media __._,_.___
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