The activists of Visthapan Virodhi Janmanch were opposing chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s visit to Kalinganagar to inaugurate the steel plant, where 14 tribals were killed in police firing in January 2, 2006.
“In the last nine years, the chief minister had never bothered to visit the place to know the whereabouts of the family members of the 14 victims who were killed by police. But today he came to inaugurate the plant. It shows his concern for the tribals and the poor,” said secretary of VVJM, Rabindra Jarika.
The members assembled at the martyrs’ column in Champakoila village where victims were cremated nine years ago. They shouted slogans against the government and headed towards the plant site before being arrested by police.
“We were only paying our tribute to the martyrs. Without asking us anything, police arrested us,” Jarika said, adding, “We will continue out fight for justice.”
“Neither the companies nor the government has done any peripheral development of the area. But and air pollution caused by the industry houses has destroyed the ecosystem,” Jarika added.
“The state government did not fulfil any of its demands, like proper rehabilitation of the displaced and giving jobs to locals. We lost our relatives here. But it seems no one is bothered for us. We feel cheated by the government,” said a protestor.