Haldia officer who pointed to ‘TMC hand’ in HBT exit held

A junior assistant manager of Haldia Dock Complex, who is also the convener of the Haldia Dock Bachao Committee, was arrested on his way to a Kolkata Port Trust meeting here today.

Ramakanta Burman was just stepping out of his house in Lake Town when he was arrested on charges of cheating. He was later released on bail.

Senior officers of Bidhannagar Police Commisionerate said Burman was arrested because of a property dispute. He possesses two flats at Lake Town, but one of the flats is not in his name, and financial irregularities have been noticed in the purchase of the flat, the police said.

Burman, however, had a different story to tell. "I have been framed by police for opening my mouth against the multi-crore corruption at Haldia Dock Complex. The police seem to be acting on behalf of former Trinamool MP Swapan Sadhan Bose (Tutu Bose), Trinamool MP Suvendu Adhikary and chairman in charge of KoPT Manish Jain, who were instrumental in driving out ABG-led HBT from Haldia. They will harass me at any cost," he said.

Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar, however, confirmed that Burman was arrested because of a property dispute.

Officers of the Haldia Dock Bachao Committee backed Burman, saying the charges against him were fabricated. They alleged that Burman was deliberately arrested on the day of the KoPT meeting because he had been divulging information regarding the HBT pullout to the media.

Amalesh Balida, joint secretary of Haldia Dock Bachao Committee, said, "If Burman attended the board of trustees' meeting today, then port officials might not have been able to defend themselves as Burman had evidence on how the port officers deliberately created an atmosphere so that HBT had to pull out and Ripley and Company got the entire contract for cargo handling."

At the meeting today, ABG Infralogistics Limited, which has been selected as the lowest bidder for loading and unloading containers at terminal five of Netaji Subhas Dock of KoPT, was awarded the contract for mechanisation of five NSD berths at Kolkata Dock System.

There is a rider though: ABG is a parent company of HBT, which has been blacklisted. So KoPT won't take responsibility if the new contract is terminated.

Some senior officials of KoPT who attended today's meeting were skeptical. "The contract is a deliberate attempt not to keep ABG in the port. It is an eyewash to select ABG Infralogistics Limited as the lowest bidder at a time when the port's image has been tarnished by ABG-led HBT's pullout from Bengal," an official said.

KoPT chairman Manish Jain did not want to comment on the issue.

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