Maoist threat to SAIL officials at Bhilai plant? (Lead)

December 19th, 2008 - 5:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Dec 19 (IANS) There was panic at Chhattisgarh’s Bhilai Steel Plant - a flagship unit of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) - Friday after posters attributed to Maoists were found inside its high security compound, threatening to kill officials unless workers were given a better deal.The plant, located 30 km west of Raipur in Bhilai, is India’s largest public sector plant. The management late Thursday found three posters pasted close to the canteen area of the foundry shop, the bloom and billet mill and the roll turning shop, plant officials said.

“The recovered papers are of A-4 size, with the threat handwritten in blue sketch pen, saying in Hindi: ‘Is bar wage revision mein workers ke sath bhedbhav hua to 2-4 afsaron ko tapkana parega’. (If injustice is done to workers during wage revision this time, then a couple of officials will have to be killed),” Jacob Kurian, assistant general manager, public relations, told IANS.

“The end of the letter said ‘Lal Salam’,” he said.

“Lal Salam” are two familiar words in insurgency-hit Chhattisgarh as the Maoists use it in most of their communication with individuals, groups or organisations.

Kurian said the Central Industrial Security Force, responsible for providing security to the plant, “is investigating the alleged threats by Maoists though an internal investigation by the plant management has also been initiated.”

However, the possibility of workers making mischief has also not been ruled out.

A source at the plant said: “It may be the mischievous act of some workers who wanted to terrorise senior officials in the name of Maoists, but the management has taken it very seriously.”

He said the threat had created panic and apprehension among those at the plant.

During 2007-08, the Bhilai Steel Plant achieved the best ever annual production of 5.268 million tonnes (MT) of hot metal, 5.054 MT of crude steel and 4.427 MT of saleable steel.

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