After ‘abduction’, officers of cargo handling company leave Haldia

The ABG-LDA-led Haldia Bulk Terminals today confirmed that its three officers, who were allegedly abducted at gunpoint last week and ordered to leave Haldia, had left the port city on Sunday evening.

The officers were reportedly threatened by a group of 50 masked men on Saturday night and asked to leave Haldia immediately, a spokesperson of the private cargo handling company said.

Company officials refused to disclose the location of the officers who had been shifted. A top official only said that they have been provided "a safe shelter in Kolkata which cannot be disclosed for security purposes".

Those who left Haldia are Captain Manpreet Jolly (General Manager, Port), Jagadish Behara and Bhusan Patil (Technical Wing Officers) and Patil's wife and baby daughter.

Haldia dock is witnessing an unprecedented deadlock as the private cargo handlers HBT find themselves pitted against the Trinamool Congress-backed "militant" labour unions who want 275 retrenched workers to be reinstated.

The situation took a turn for the worse after judicial intervention, with the company seeking police protection and security for their officials at the dock. The company had paid Rs 17.5 lakh to the East Midnapore district police administration to ensure security before the alleged abduction of three officers, one officer's wife and her one-year-old baby from their homes at gunpoint.

Nearly 60 hours after the abductions and release, the East Midnapore police tried to get in touch with the families on Monday in what was said to be an investigation into the abductions. It was learnt that the police sent a fax message to HBT officials this evening, seeking their version regarding the abductions.

According to the FIR lodged by HBT, at least 50 unidentified persons wearing monkey caps and mufflers went to the residences of the three officers and abducted them at gunpoint and threatened them. The gang — suspected to be retrenched workers of HBT — released them later. This despite the Calcutta High Court order to the state government to provide security to the company. When the gang barged into the apartments, HBT managers reportedly called the police. But police did not provide protection, they alleged.

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