As protests against Korean steel maker Posco's mega project in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa continued on Sunday, four South Korean employees of Hyundai working with the Indian Oil Corporation refinery at Paradip were detained by activists at Dhinkia village of the district on the suspicion that they were Posco employees. They were later released.
Led by Abhay Sahu, chairman of the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, which has been spearheading the protest since July 2005, more than 150 people from different hamlets in Dhinkia also went out with spades and other tools and damaged the unmetalled road leading to the project site from the Paradip port, which is a few km away.
Officials in Jagatsinghpur said that the four Hyundai employees had accidentally strayed into Posco's proposed steel plant site in Dhinkia on Sunday when they were accosted by villagers. ''Since the refinery being constructed at Abhaychandpur is near the site, they casually walked into the Posco area,'' said an official. However, they were all set free on Sunday evening after anti-Posco activists realised their mistake.
Sahu said the four Koreans had ventured inside the village when they were spotted by the villagers. ''They were asked by our people as to why they had come here. They did not give any reply. So we held them hostage,'' said Sahu.
Anti-Posco activists have kept Posco executives hostage several times in the past. In January last year, four Posco officials were taken ''hostage'' when they had gone to distribute New Year calendars to villagers. In October 2007, four senior Posco India officials, including three South Korean nationals, were taken hostage by PPSS activists at the company's proposed captive port site in Jagatsinghpur district.
The PPSS activists damaged the road, which runs along the coastline, after the chairman of the Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) and the director-general of police took it to reach the site on Saturday.