Eight police personnel were held hostage by a group of villagers opposing the Rs 52,000 crore Posco steel plant for nearly five hours today before being set free in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district.
Seven policemen and the driver of police jeep which entered Patana village in Dhinkia panchayat were stopped by villagers, mostly women and were held captive, Additional Superintendent of Police Shantanu Das told reporters.
The policemen and the driver were allowed to go after they convinced the villagers that they were not associated with the land acquisition for the steel project, he said.
The eight were not harmed, he said.
Leaders of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), spearheading the anti-Posco agitation for the last six years, said since the policemen had nothing to do with land acquisition they were released.
Earlier, President of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Committee (PPSS) Abhaya Sahu said the policemen should not have entered Dhinkia area.
He claimed it was agreed at a meeting between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and PPSS leaders last year that police would not enter the Dhinkia area.
Meanwhile, land acquisition work for the Posco project progressed smoothly in Noliasahi, Polanga and Bayanala areas where around 32 betel plantations were acquired and over Rs 38 lakh handed over as compensation to land-losers, official sources said.