Raipur, October 21, 2012

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu

 Two security personnel at the Raigarh plant of the Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) have been remanded in police custody for a week for allegedly trying to ‘eliminate’ Ramesh Agarwal, eminent environmental activist of Chhattisgarh.

Mr. Agarwal was attacked in July and shot through the thigh.

He has been consistently opposing the 2400 MW power plant, which allegedly has flouted all environmental and labour laws.

K.K. Chopra, director of Superior Fire Services (SFS) Services that provides security at the plant, and S.N. Panigrahi, a worker with SFS, were arrested under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, city Superintendent of Police of Raigarh Neha Pandey told The Hindu.

“There is little doubt that Chopra and Panigrahi were involved,” said Ms. Pande.

Earlier, talking to The Hindu, Superintendent of Police of Raigarh district Anand Chabra confirmed the arrests. “They [Chopra and Panigrahi] surrendered in the Raigarh court yesterday [Saturday] and given police remand for six days,” he said.

He said four other petty criminals were arrested earlier and two were absconding.

The other accused were not employees of SFS or the power plant.

Mr. Agarwal was imprisoned earlier for allegedly mobilising a mob at a public hearing organised to grant clearance to JSPL. He was released after two months.

Later, when he was shot, his NGO, Jan Chetna Manch, alleged that JSPL ‘planned the attack.’

JSPL, however, has denied the allegation.

Recently, Jan Chetna Manch activist Rajendra Tripathi alleged that several workers had died on the JSPL premises.

“Only yesterday [Saturday] a worker fell from a chimney and died. In the last two months, three have died on the premises,” he said.