SAMBALPUR: Fear was writ large on the faces of employees of ARSS Infrastructure Company crusher unit located near Mundher village on the Sambalpur-Cuttack highway who faced the wrath of Maoists on Tuesday evening. The rebels had arrived at the crusher unit, tied up the employees at gun point and set it on fire. The rebels also threatened the employees with dire consequences if they did not leave the site immediately.
Describing the incident, the cruisher unit employees said they felt extremely insecure after the incident and wanted to leave the place as soon as possible.
“We do not want to stay here anymore because we feel insecure. While some have already left, others like us are waiting for our salary before we leave,” Prafulla Mohanty, a worker of the crusher unit, said. According to Mohanty, workers from Khordha, Puri, Nayagarh, Balasore and Cuttack districts had never encountered with such a situation during their two-year-stay there earlier. He said now all of them wanted to leave the place mainly because of the Maoist threat. “They put guns to our heads and threatened us to leave the place immediately. We do not want to displease them any more,” said Bharat Lenka, another worker.
The workers said the rebels claimed that they were aware about police movement in the area as they had informers in the police department. “They (Maoists) told us that they have informers in the police team and did not fear the police,” Ajay Pradhan, another worker, said. According to him, although both the Jujomora police station and Sambalpur town are located barely 15 km away, police came to their rescue only after two hours.
Senior officials of the company have, meanwhile, arrived at the camp site to assess the situation. Expressing surprise over the incident, ARSS associate vice-president Abhay Chobe said, “The company has been functioning from places like Phulbani, Nayagarh and Malkangiri in Orissa for the past several years in connection with construction of roads and supply of materials. It never faced a situation like this earlier. We are not sure what they (Maoists) want from us.”
Chobe said about 27 vehicles, including one heavy machine installed at the crusher, were complete destroyed in the blaze. “Although we have not yet assessed the loss, it could be to the tune of over Rs three crore,” he said adding that the incident has stalled all the company’s work for at least 15 days.