Officials, kin ‘abducted’ at Haldia dock

HBT says situation spiralling out of control, TMC junks it

The ABG-LDA led private cargo handler Haldia Bulk Terminal (HBT) on Sunday said that its three management officials and two of their family members were kidnapped early morning and later released, adding that there has been a complete law and order breakdown at Haldia dock complex.

This comes on a day when cargo handling operations were scheduled to resume with assurances from the district administration that adequate security will be provided at two berths of the dock where labour unrest has been going on for some time.

Gurpreet Malhi, Chief Executive Officer (HBT), said: "Three senior officers — Captain Manpreet Jolly, Jagadish Behara and Bushan Patil including his wife and one-year-old daughter were abducted at about 1 am Sunday by a mob of about 50 unidentified persons who were wearing monkey caps and mufflers."

According to Malhi, the officers and their family members were forced to leave Haldia "at gunpoint".

"They were threatened and advised that should they ever set foot in Haldia again, they will face dire consequences. It is quite disgusting to understand that some vested interests are continuing to thwart the legitimate efforts of HBT to resume operations at HDC. It is apparent that these vested interests do not want HBT's operations to resume even though the resumption is in the interest of West Bengal, the industry, the trade, KoPT and Haldia itself," Malhi said.

The three officers, including their families, have decided to leave Haldia, he added.

East Midnapore SP Sukhen Jain said he had received a complaint in this regard from the HBT officials.

The Trinamool Congress-backed labour union has been at the forefront of the agitation at the dock demanding hiring back the 275 workers who were retrenched earlier this year. Two days ago, the HBT had paid Rs 17 lakh to East Midnapore district administration for maintaining law and order as per the order of the Calcutta High Court. On September 28, four employees of HBT were allegedly attacked by a violent mob.

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