Captive democracy: abuse of the criminal system and filing false cases to curb dissent against the POSCO steel plant in Orissa

As is now well known, the Government of Orissa and Pohang Steel Company (POSCO), Republic of Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 22, 2005 for setting up an Integrated Steel Plant in Orissa, in Jagatsinghpur district, affecting 8 villages of three Gram Panchayats of Kujang Tahsil, i.e. Dhinkia, Gadakujanga and Naogaon. The attempts by the district administration to acquire land have been thwarted by strong local opposition starting early 2006, primarily by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, that spearheads the movement against POSCO. In response to this resistance, the State Government has been using the tactic of the abuse of the criminal system to file numerous false criminal complaints against all persons resisting the project, including members of the PPSS leading to threats of arrest perpetually hanging over them. A team consisting of Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Forum, New Delhi and Raghupathi S. and Maitreyi Krishnan from Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore visited the POSCO – affected Dhinkia Panchayat, consisting of the villages of Dhinkia, Govindpur and Paatna between 22nd December, 2012 and 24th December, 2012 in light of various reports and complaints by the people's organizations that the State was using the criminal system to implicate in criminal cases, villagers who were resisting the establishment of the industry by POSCO. This is a report of the fact-finding into the issue.