NCPCR: Villagers involves children to highlight opposition

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Bhubaneshwar, Jul 4: Following the proposed land acquisition for the steel plant in Dhinkia village in Orissa, the situations are intensifying into worse path as now, the children are being used as the latest ammunition of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Monday, Jul 4 felt that the anti-Posco villagers have adopted a novel strategy to highlight their opposition through children.

Three members, Dr Yogesh Dube, Prof Jayaprakash and retired justice R S Mishra, of the commission went to the project site and interacted with the children sitting on dharna in chain since June 2 at Balitikira, their parents, president of Posco Pratirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS) Abhaya Sahu and other villagers.

The NCPCR members met PPSS chief Sahu and sought to know his stand on bringing children to participate in the agitation. Sahu reportedly informed the commission that the villagers would not mind sending back their kids to the schools once the government stopped land acquisition in the area, policemen are withdrawn from the schools and the project scrapped in the area.

Pradip Swain, a class V student, lay on the sand for four hours under a scorching sun to prevent armed policemen from entering Gobindapur village of Jagatsinghpur district.

Like the 11-year-old, 400 children have stopped playing and studying in the past few days, with the anti-Posco group training them to form barricades to prevent the state government from acquiring land for the South Korean steel behemoth's 12 million tonne per annum project. "We have learnt techniques to form human barriers to save our land," said Sarat Swain, a class VI student of Dhinkia high school.

According to the reports there are over 100 children being used as human shields to halt the process for the country's biggest FDI project.

The SP of Jagatsinghpur, Devdatta Singh, commented, "The children are used as shield by the protestors which is illegal. The child rights act is violated. They are not allowing govt officials and even villagers who have their land in that area to enter. So we are trying to pursue them not to take law into their own hands."

“Children did not turn up voluntarily. Rather they were prompted by the Samity leaders. We have recorded the statement of some sections of parents. A section of children told us that the PPSS leaders forced our parents to join them in the movement," said members of the inquiry committee.

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