Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kalinganagar ( Jajpur) , June 23:
Two workers of the Tata Steel’s Kalinganagar unit in Odisha’s Jajpur district were seriously injured when security personnel of the steel unit allegedly opened fire after a clash between them and the workers during a protest by the latter demanding higher wages.
Police sources said trouble started as hundreds of contractual workers on Monday morning started a mass dharana in front of the office of the Vice president (Engineering) R.R. Jha in the plant premises demanding immediate payment of their pending over time dues. Private security personnel deployed in the plant premises tried to disperse the agitating workers following which there was a clash between them.
“The workers staged a mass dharana in front of the Vice president (Engineering) office in plant premises demanding their over time dues. The private security personnel deployed in the plant came to the agitators and intervened. There was a heated exchange of words between the agitating workers and the security personnel. The security men resorted to lathi charge on the agitating workers and when the workers started stone pelting, they opened fire at the agitating workers injuring two of them,” said Kalinga Nagar Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), P.K. Sahani.
On the other hand, two security personnel of the plant were also injured due to stone pelting by the agitating workers, police said.
One of the injured, identified as Maheswar Patra (34) who sustained serious injuries has been shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack for treatment, police said adding Patra had sustained bullet injuries on his neck, hand and leg.
“No FIR has been made from any side. We will take action as per the law when Fir is made,” said the ASP.
The situation is tense but under control, he said adding armed police force have been deployed at the site to maintain strict vigil.
The Tatas, however, claimed that the security personnel had only fired in the air when the protesting workers turned violent and no one had been injured in the firing.
“The mob turned violent and indulged in rioting, vandalising company property and attacking other workers and officers. As the lives of several other workers and officers present were endangered, the security staff had to resort to firing in the air to ward off the attacking workers, in which nobody was hurt,” said the chief of corporate communications, India and South East Asia, Tata Steel.
The company, however, did admit that 17 people were injured, four of them grievously, but blamed it on ‘manhandling by the group of workers’.
“We have requested for intervention by respective government agencies to help us reach at a solution under the prevailing law of the state. Talks are on and we hope the situation will soon be back to normalcy,” the Tata executive said in the statement.