Protesters outside ECL campus at Siyaljori in Bokaro on Friday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
After 60 hours of massive protests that saw everything from assault on employees to hostage crisis and mass arrests, Bokaro land-losers called off their economic blockade against Electrosteel Castings Limited (ECL) on Friday after chief minister Hemant Soren intervened, announcing tripartite talks to resolve the stalemate.
A meeting among state officials, ECL representatives and the agitators, led by Nirsa (Dhanbad) MLA Arup Chatterjee, will be held in Ranchi on October 1.
The message from the chief minister’s office came through chief secretary R.S. Sharma, who, in turn, relayed the news to Bokaro deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh.
The DC called up MLA Arup Chatterjee, who was then in a camp jail after being rounded up in the morning, along with over 180 protesters, and told him about the state government’s decision. Soon, the strike was called off. The arrested agitators were being released at the time of filing of this report.
The indefinite economic blockade was launched near ECL’s Siyaljori plant and its Parbatpur coal block, both in Chandankyari, on Tuesday night to extract “jobs for all those displaced” and “salaries on a par with Coal India Limited and SAIL”. All routes leading to the steel plant and coal unit were blocked over the past few days.
On Thursday, the protest took an ugly turn when the land-losers held 1,200 employees hostage at the Siyaljori plant and beat up five officials, including two engineers.
According to high-level sources, ECL director R.S. Singh and Chas (Bokaro) SDO Sanjay Singh had summoned MLA Chatterjee for talks at the steel plant around 9.30pm.
The discussion continued till 1am but no settlement was reached. Around 5am on Friday, more than 100 policemen raided the protest camps and arrested 187 people, including the MLA.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Bokaro inspector Naresh Sahay said the decision to arrest the agitators was taken after the failure of tripartite talks on Thursday night.
ECL communication chief Rohit Singh said: “The agitation has been called off. We are ready for fresh talks in Ranchi on October 1.”