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We strongly condemn the attack on and illegal abduction by the Odisha police of Umakanta Biswal, a famer belonging to Dhinkia village of Odisha, and an active member of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), that has been engaged over the last six years in resisting the forcible acquisition of their land by the Odisha government for handing over to the South Korean multinational corporation POSCO. This incident, which occurred on 2nd March 2012, is the latest in the series of atrocities inflicted by the Odisha government and by hired goons associated with the government and the POSCO company, on the people of these villages. Umakanta Biswal, who was engaged in agricultural activity in his paddy field at the time of his abduction, was pursued by a group of armed plainclothes policemen on a motorbike, and shot at when he tried to escape. He has reportedly been kept in Paradip prison, and has not been produced in front of a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest, as is required under law. We have cause to fear that he is being tortured in police custody, and are gravely concerned about his safety. This highly irregular, and illegal, form of detention of a citizen, amounting to a kidnapping by the police, is emblematic of the situation in which the villagers of the POSCO-affected area are living for the last six years, just because they have tried to protect their lives and livelihoods from being devastated by corporate greed. Numerous villagers have multiple false cases lodged against them by the police, and people are in danger of being abducted and detained by the police while being engaged in day to day activities such as farming. There have also been incidents where a villager taking his sick child to hospital has been arrested by the police. This continuing victimization and violation of basic human rights of a whole community of people is intolerable, and goes against all tenets of constitutionality and humanity. We condemn this brutal and illegal action by the Odisha government and demand that Umakanta Biswal be immediately produced in court and released. We hope request the National Human Rights Commisssion will take cognizance of this illegal detention and violation of rights of a citizen, which is symptomatic of the violation of rights of the entire community of villagers in the area of the proposed POSCO project.

Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity Samittee, New Delhi

Prafulla Samantara NAPM and Lok Shakti Abhiyan

Prof. Ajit Jha Samajwadi Jan Parishad

Partho Sarathi Roy SANHATI Collective

Kiran Shaheen Media Action Group, Delhi

Aarti Chokshi Secretary PUCL, Karnataka

Kamayani Bali Mahabal  Human Rights Lawyer Activist, Mumbai

Students for Resistance Delhi University and JNU

Amit Chakrabarty Research Scholar, JNU

Mamta Das NFFPFW and POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi

Subrat Kumar Sahoo POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity Samittee, New Delhi

Asit Das POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity Samittee, New Delhi

Nayan Jyoti Krantikari Naujawan Sabha

Shankar Gopal Krishnan Campaign for Survival and Dignity

Mayur Chetia Research Scholar JNU

Arya Thomas Krantikari Naujawan Sabha

P.K. Sunderam Research Scholar JNU

Bhanumati Gochhait POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity, Delhi

Ranjeet Thakur Journalist, Uttarakhand

Rajni Kant Mudgal Socialist Front

Rita Kumari Pravasi Nagarik Manch

Pushpa Achanta

Women against Sexual Violence State Repression Karnataka