The charred remains of the dumpers at Parbatpur, Nawadih, on Thursday. (Pankaj Singh)
Parbatpur, Dec. 10: A land dispute between villagers and Electrosteel Castings Limited (ECL) today snowballed into bloodletting violence at Parbatpur coal block in Nawadih with security guards of the factory firing on a group of protesters, killing one.
At least 21 people, including three guards, were injured and eight dumpers torched during a clash that followed. Two guards have been arrested.
Parbatpur had been simmering ever since the ECL authorities allegedly tried to grab ancestral land three days ago.
Some three hundred villagers today reached the factory site, 36km from Bokaro steel city, around 9.40am to voice their protest. Fourteen private guards employed by ECL stopped them at the gate.
An altercation ensued. The guards asked the villagers not to enter the premises. Their warning unheeded, they opened fire, killing 19-year-old Shatrughan Rai. Armed with stones and brickbats, the enraged mob, joined by more than thousand others, fought a pitched battle. They set a coal dumper on fire. The blaze engulfed seven more standing in a row before assistant superintendent of police, Chas, Rakesh Bansal and his men cut in and save 40 others.
Twenty-one people, including three women, were injured in the violence that lasted for more than three hours. They are being treated at different hospitals in Bokaro and Chandankiyari. ECL sources said property worth Rs 2 crore was damaged.While senior officials of the company refused to comment, chief of security Sanjay Tewary claimed that the guards had fired two rounds and “only when they felt their lives threatened by hundreds of villagers”.
However, talking to The Telegraph, Chas SDO Manoj Kumar held “impatient and inexperienced” security guards responsible for the violence. “I was also surprised to know that ECL is not equipped to fight fire. It could have saved some vehicles from being charred,” the SDO said.
North Chhotanagpur IG K.S. Meena said additional forces had been rushed to the site and the situation was under control.
Villagers have, meanwhile, lodged an FIR against a dozen ECL officials at Amlabad police station. Kumar said the administration had begun negotiations with villagers who would also be “duly compensated”.
The Prabatpur premises of ECL have been turned into a fortress. ASP Bansal is camping at the spot. Trouble is anticipated because the land protesters have won the support of local politicians after today’s firing.
The steel plant had been in news in May this year when local workers resented to a decision of Chinese officials to send back one of their colleagues who hadn’t been regular at work. They beat up four officials, prompting administrative intervention.