7 hurt in protest against Asansol plant expansion

Seven persons were injured today when police clashed with villagers protesting against a boundary wall erected by the IISCO plant of Steel Authority of India Ltd at Puroshattampur village in Asansol.

The villagers were demanding removal of the wall from the land acquired by IISCO for expansion of the plant. When police tried to quell the protest, the villagers threw stones at them. A clash ensued, in which seven people including two policemen were injured. Five people have been arrested.

The villagers, under the banner of Krishak O Krishi Jibi Bachao Samiti, claimed that they had requested the steel plant authorities not to erect the wall as a temple was located in the proposed site. They requested exemption of the shrine from the proposed site, but the authorities allegedly ignored them.

Around 230 relatives of the landlosers also participated in the protest, demanding jobs that the plant authorities had allegedly promised.

The villagers went to the site at 11 am and saw the boundary wall being erected. They gathered some youths and hurled stones at the workers. They also gheraoed the house of Law Minister Malay Ghatak and claimed they would continue the protest if the plant authorities refused to give them jobs. The gherao was lifted in the afternoon after the minister assured them he would look after the matter.

Ghatak said he and Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee would meet IISCO officials on Wednesday and find a solution.

IISCO officials said incidences of theft and burglary had increased, so they were forced to erect the wall.

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