30 vehicles torched in Angul
Talcher: Railway siding area near a colliery in Angul district virtually turned into a battle field today as rival groups went on rampage and set on fire over 30 vehicles, the police said.
The incident occurred near Jagannath Colliery under Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd where over 150 people affiliated to a trade union were entrusted the job of collecting left-over coal after loading into railway rakes near the railway siding for about seven years.
The contract was given to three firms on renewal this year causing animosity among the affected people, Superintendent of Police, Narasingh Bhol said.
Violence had erupted earlier on October 7 when a new group was not allowed to commence coal collection work and 118 persons including 14 women were arrested in connection with the incident. Many of the arrested people were later enlarged on bail, he said.
The work remained suspended from October 7 to November 27 and both the groups assembled near the siding yesterday to resume the work. As protest and counter-protest ran high in the area, 48 persons from among old workers including local independent MLA Braja Kishore Pradhan were detained and later let off on PR bond, he said.
Alleging that the workers having allegiance to a group were getting patronage from ruling BJD, the old workers today staged protest in the area and did not allow the work to commence. In the melee, the workers belonging to both groups set on fire over 30 vehicles, the SP said.
However, there was no report of anyone being injured in the incident, Bhol said.
Due to the unrest, coal production and transportation in the collieries including Jagannath, Bharatpur, Hingula, Balaram, Ananta, Bhubaneswari and Kanhia in the district, considered the coal hinter land, remained severely affected, official sources.
On an average 1.5 lakh mt of coal per day are transported from the collieries in the district through railway rakes.