The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Posco officials face fair fury

Bhubaneswar, May 16: The going is getting tougher for Posco officials by the day.

Five days after three executives of the Korean steel maker were abducted and taken hostage for several hours, today women of Nuagaon — part of the proposed site for the 12 million tonne steel project — gheraoed two Posco officials for about half-an-hour.

The women of Nuagaon gheraoed the Posco executives even as chief minister Naveen Patnaik today said he was ready for talks with the anti-Posco protestors in a peaceful way. Patnaik, who returned from Delhi today, said he was ready for discussion with the protesters “as long as it was done in a peaceful way”.

The officials at the receiving end, including Posco’s corporate social responsibility executive Debashis Swain and another executive Prasanta Rout, were chased by angry women of Nuagaon when the duo went to the village around 11.30 am to distribute medicines as part of the company’s plan to woo the villagers.

Swain, who on Friday was taken hostage for 10 hours, today ventured into the village with Prasanta riding a motorcycle even as local police had advised them not to enter the hamlets in view of the rising protests.

Officer-in-charge of Kujanga police station Amarendra Panda said the two executives were kept hostage for about 30 minutes.

“We had advised the company people to inform us before they visit the area. The situation is volatile and the company people should be a little cautious,” said Panda, adding no FIR had been filed by the company yet.

Posco officials here sought to downplay the incident, though. “There was just some heated argument between the villagers and our officials. Our people then left the area,” said Posco spokesperson Shashanka Pattnaik.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, an anti-Posco front, president Abhay Sahu said the women folk spotted the two officials slipping in to the village just before noon. “They were stopped and asked by our women as to why they had come here. The duo, however, did not give any reply and simply ran away leaving their motorcycle,” Sahu said from Dhinkia over telephone.

The men of the village were attending a meeting of CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya at a nearby village in Patna when the Posco officials were intercepted.

The anti-Posco protesters said the company should desist from building its plant in the proposed site.

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