Tension has gripped Kalinga Nagar industrial complex in Orissa's Jajpur district after about a dozen people, including four officials of Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL), were injured in a scuffle between the plant security personnel and local villagers, officials said on Monday.
The trouble started when some contractual workers, belonging to a minority community, wanted to come outside the plant on Sunday evening for the Ramadan prayers, Contract Labourers Union president Bidyadhar Mohanty told IANS.
When the security guards stopped them, there was a scuffle between the workers and the guards.
As the news spread, hundreds of local villagers on Monday locked the plant and ransacked electronic display boards, lights and staff quarters of the JSL unit at Manpur village near the industrial complex area, the police said.
"The agitators have damaged properties worth around Rs.1 crore (Rs.10 million). Production at the plant has been stopped as the agitators have locked both entrance and exit gates of the plant,” chief resident manager of the plant Rajdeep Mohanty told IANS.
"They even prevented men and material from entering the plant premises. As a result, more than 1,000 workers and officers have been locked inside," he added.
Four company officials have sustained critical injuries and moved to hospitals, Rajdeep Mohanty said.
The company was forced to shut down operation of all its four furnaces since Monday morning. However, the power plant has remained operational, he said.
"Now the situation has become normal. We have deployed about 100 policemen in the area," a senior district administrative official told IANS.
However, union president Bidyadhar Mohanty alleged that the police lathi charged innocent villagers, who were demanding action against the attackers.
“While the minority community workers are going to attend their religious prayer during holy Ramadan month they are being greeted with lathis and boots by the plant management,” he said.
The 12,000-acre Kalinga Nagar complex, about 100 km away from Bhubaneswar, has about 10 industrial units and steel plants. Eight of them have already started production.