Paradip, Sept. 26: A violent clash erupted today between a group of workers belonging to a private construction firm and those opposed to the Posco steel plant on the periphery of the project site. The incident left at least 20 persons injured as crude bombs were used in the battle.
Confirming the incident, superintendent of police, Jagatsinghpur, S. Devidatta Singh said: “A clash took place today near Abhayachandrapur over road-laying work. But we are yet to receive any complaint in this regard. We are told that some persons were injured in the clash. However, as a precautionary measure, armed police deployment has been made at the site.”
Eye-witnesses said trouble started as workers of Paradip Parivaran Nigam, a private firm engaged in laying the coastal road from the Paradip oil refinery project site to the proposed Posco steel project, resumed work today. Construction of the road had been stalled for a couple of months following protest from anti-Posco protesters.
As soon as the road-laying work resumed today, activists of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samity (PPSS), mostly from Dhinkia village, offered resistance. This sparked off a scuffle between the two sides and it later turned into a violent clash.
“Lathi-wielding workers chased away the protesting villagers. Angry local residents from Dhinkia rushed to the spot and launched a retaliatory attack. When angry local residents lobbed hand-made bombs at the workers, they beat a hasty retreat by suspending road-laying work,” said an eye-witness requesting anonymity.
The anti-Posco outfit described the attack as an “administration-sponsored ploy to terrorise the peace-loving people”. President of PPSS Abhaya Sahu said: “Crime mongers from Paradip were hired by the private firm to trample people’s democratic movement against the steel project. Everything was done at the behest of the civil and police administration. The police had prior knowledge about the planned attack on the people. The police were not far away from where the incident took place but they remained silent as anti-socials went about beating innocent villagers.”
Despite repeated efforts, the owner and officials of the private construction firm could not be contacted for comments.