After lambasting the CPI(M) for using strong-arm tactics to drive away investors from West Bengal, the ruling Trinamool Congress seems to be resorting to the same methods.
Early on Sunday, a group of 50 men abducted three executives of Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT), along with two family members, in a bid to thwart the Mumbai-based operator from resuming operations at its two berths at the port. The abducted officials and family members were released hours later with the warning never to go back to Haldia.
An HBT statement said three executives - Manpreet Jolly, Jagadish Behara and Bushan Patil, including his wife and 1-year-old daughter - were abducted at 1 am on Sunday by about 50 unidentified persons. The company said they were released later in the day after being "threatened at gun point that they should not set foot again in Haldia".
Gurpreet Malhi, CEO of HBT, a joint venture between Mumbai-based ABG and French firm LDA, said on Sunday, "Vested interests do not want HBT's operations to resume even though the resumption is in the interest of the state, industry, trade, the Kolkata Port Trust and Haldia dock itself."
A firm owned by a Trinamool MP dominates the on-shore operations at Haldia.
With this incident, the 45-day crisis at the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) sunk to its lowest depth. The abduction prompted the HBT management to declare they are "shocked at the complete
breakdown of law and order at Haldia".
State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said, "What Trinamool did in Singur as an opposition party, it is now doing at Haldia with more brazenness as the ruling party. No industrialist would venture into Bengal should such lawlessness continue."
But on Sunday, industries minister Partha Chatterjee refused to comment on the situation, saying Adhikary - who is spearheading the war against HBT -- would be in a better position to do so. Adhikary, however, did not take any calls from Hindustan Times.