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Activists all on Odisha govt to withdraw charges against Dhinkia steel project protesters

A group of social activists, including prominent figures like Medha Patkar and retired Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur, have made an appeal to the Odisha government. They are requesting the withdrawal of legal cases against residents of Dhinkia village in Jagatsinghpur district. These cases were filed against the villagers who were opposing a proposed steel project in their region. The project in question, an integrated steel plant, is being planned by Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Group and is intended for the plot that was originally acquired for a steel project by the South Korean firm POSCO.

The Peoples’ Commission (PC), an organization led by Justice Lokur and composed of social activists, actively listened to the concerns of the villagers who have long been opposing the steel project. Following their discussions with the affected people, the commission issued an interim report that contains its observations and recommendations for the government. The activists revealed that approximately 100 cases have been registered against the villagers between 2019 and 2023, with some cases involving multiple individuals. The PC’s demand is clear: all these criminal cases should be dropped, and any coercive actions against the villagers should cease. They emphasize that citizens have the fundamental rights to peacefully protest against displacement, exercise their freedom of expression, and move freely without being criminalized for asserting these rights.


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