Bhubaneswar, Oct. 14: Eleven persons, including 10 contract workers engaged to construct a wooden bridge in the proposed steel plant site of South Korean steel maker Posco in Jagatsinghpur, have been held captive for three days.
The incident was reported even as four senior company officials were released seven hours after being held hostage yesterday.
Abhay Sahu, the president of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, the organisation spearheading the anti-steel plant agitation over the last 27 months, told The Telegraph: “We have detained 10 labourers engaged to build a wooden bridge connecting to the Posco site, and a driver.”
He, however, said that the hostages were safe and were being looked after well. Nobody had come to the village for their release yet.
A Posco official clarified that the workers neither belonged to the company nor engaged for any construction work connected with the steel plant.
Confirming the incident, the Jagatsinghpur district collector, P.K. Meherda, said the workers held captive by the samiti members were in no way related to the project. They were engaged by the state rural development department that has taken up the construction of a wooden bridge outside the Posco project site.
“The workers had unknowingly gone to Dhinkia village, the epicentre of protest against the Posco plant, on October 11 to inquire about the location of the proposed wooden bridge and were captured,” said Meherda. “ Talks are on. Hopefully, they would be released soon,” he added.
The officer-in-charge of Kujang police station, Amarendra Panda, however, said no formal complaint had been lodged either by the contractor or the rural development department so far.
The district superintendent of police, Y.K. Jethwa, said he had asked the contractor concerned to make necessary arrangements for the workers’ release. “We hope that they are released by tonight,” he said.
Yesterday, four senior officials of Posco, including three South Koreans, were held hostage for more than seven hours by the samiti members at Dhinkia village. They had gone to the area to survey the route for the installation of electric towers between the oil refinery of Indian Oil Corporation and the Posco steel plant site.
They were later released yesterday afternoon following assurances by the district authorities that Posco officials would not visit the area again.