Bokaro, May 12 / The Telegraph: Local villagers fought a pitched battle with Chinese workers of an upcoming steel plant near here over a labour dispute forcing the Chas administration to send in policemen and senior officials to bring the situation under control.
There are 600 Chinese in the 1,800-strong workforce of Electrosteel Casting Limited (ECL), which is setting up a 3MTPA steel plant at Parbatpur, about 35km from Bokaro, set to begin production from 2011. MS Limited, a Chinese firm, is involved in the project after bagging a global tender floated by ECL, a Calcutta-based company.
Today's daylong violence left four persons injured, including plant supervisor Su-Su Chiang, workers Chintu Singh and Haren Hajra and another unidentified person. The clash spurred an eight-hour road blockade in Telgaria-Chas and prompted Chinese workers to SOS the embassy in New Delhi, seeking protection.
Trouble began yesterday when ECL officials sent back a worker, M. Rajwar, for allegedly remaining absent from work for five days. This triggered angry arguments between a group of workers and Chinese officials. Later in the day, the ECL management filed an FIR against five employees, including Rajwar, for indiscipline that it said could disrupt the ambitious project.
The news of an FIR being lodged added fuel to fire. A few hundred villagers today trooped to the Parbatpur site and began attacking Chinese workers, who retaliated. The clash continued for three hours, leaving four seriously injured. They have been admitted to a nursing home in Chas.
Agitating workers blocked the highway connecting Telgaria and Chas demanding that the Chinese workers be asked to leave Bokaro. The blockade was lifted after the local administration intervened.
The Chinese were sent to their camp residences amid tight security. A senior supervisor working for ECL, S. Wang, told that local workers instigated the fight. "We had had no option but to retaliate," he said.
Sub-divisional officer of Chas Manoj Kumar said that both sides were responsible for the violence. ECL security officer Sanjay Kumar, however, blamed the locals.
Another Chinese official, unwilling to be identified, said they had come here to complete the project within the stipulated time of 18 months, but locals were creating trouble.