April 21: Maoists target Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and railway properties at Kiriburu and Karampada inside Saranda forests in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district.
Barely 24 hours later they blow up SAIL’s Meghatuburu pump house in the same area.
<b1>Maoists have resumed their attacks on SAIL and the railways in West Singhbhum district, but their real target appears to be the Lakshmi Mittal-owned ArcelorMittal.
They want to pressure the government to bar the world’s largest steel-maker from mining iron ore in the district’s Karampada region, around 150 km southwest of Ranchi.
"We are ready with a blueprint to prevent the Mittals’ entry into the region,” newly appointed Maoist spokesman, Rakeshji told Hindustan Times.
The local population would lead the agitation, with Maoist backing, he said.
“We will create another Singur in Karampada,” Rakeshji said, adding they would not allow the Mittals to exploit the state’s rich mineral wealth.
The Maoist attacks on SAIL properties come after a gap of almost four years. They were initially thought to be the usual Maoist violence, but Rakeshji’s warning revealed that the attacks carried a message.
Maoists call the shots in at least 17 out of 24 districts in Jharkhand.
The Centre has endorsed an iron ore licence for Arcelor-Mittal’s India operations at the Karampada deposit, which will be able to meet part of the iron ore needs of its proposed 12 million ton per annum Greenfield steel project.
The company plans to invest Rs 4,000 crore in the state.
But alleged Maoists pressure has forced the Shibu Soren-led ruling alliance to rethink its mining policy. “We are reviewing all mining recommendations made to Centre in the past,” Soren recently said.
The West Singhbhum police, however, downplayed the Maoist threat. “We have not received any intelligence input on the threats so far,” Police Superintendent Akhilesh Kumar Singh said.
ArcelorMittal officials were unavailable for comment.