Police arrest protesters on Wednesday. Pix: Pankaj Singh
Bokaro, May 27: Fifteen villagers, claiming to be heirs of displaced families, were arrested today after they tried to obstruct the ongoing construction of a boundary wall for the upcoming power refuelling centre for the modernisation of Bokaro Steel Plant.
Several others fled when the police chased protesters who had started pelting stones at gate III, Sector IX, of Bokaro Steel Plant at 10.30am today.
Those arrested include Vasudev Mahto, Phuleshwar Mahto, Binod Kumar, Brajesh Mahto, Kalicharan, Jitendra Kumar, Tulsi Mahto, Nirmal Mahto, Bablu Kumar, Dhiru Mahto, Rameshwar Prasad, Visheshwar Mahto, Suresh Mahto, Shiv Mahto and another unidentified person. Later, they were all brought to Harla police station.
The power refuelling centre is necessary for building a cold rolling mill and will be part of the power grid coming up on Bokaro Steel land.
The land was acquired in the early ’60s for which compensation and jobs were given to the displaced. And the demand for direct jobs in the steel plant by the heirs of the displaced had been turned down, said B.K. Singh, the senior officer of the plant’s public relation department.
“The displaced, whose forefathers have already been compensated, tried to disturb the construction of the boundary wall, demanding jobs. The Supreme Court has already ruled that any jobs in the company will come through the district administration,” he clarified.
The police said the plant officials had written to the district administration two days ago, saying they feared retaliation from the displaced as the construction of the boundary wall at gate III was scheduled to start from today.
Accordingly, Chas sub-divisional officer Manoj Kumar imposed section 144 in the area. Bokaro superintendent of police (SP) Laxman Singh sent a battalion along with CISF personnel, led by commandant C.K. Bisht, to the site early morning.
When the police reached the construction site, they saw hundreds of villagers shouting slogans demanding jobs and threatened to prevent the construction of the wall.
Initially, resident magistrate Manoj Jaiswal tried to placate the villagers. But that didn’t work. Bokaro deputy superintendent of police P.N. Singh then ordered his men to swing into action.
Laxman Singh said the police first tried to pacify the mob, failing which they arrested 15 people.