Cops looked the other way for 43 days
Two senior officers of Haldia Dock Complex had lodged complaints against Ripley & Co (a firm owned by a Trinamool MP) with the officer-in-charge of Haldia police station, three days before Haldia Bulk Terminals suspended operations at both its berths. Snigdhendu Bhattacharya reports.kolkata Updated: Nov 03, 2012 11:45 IST
Two senior officers of Haldia Dock Complex had lodged complaints against Ripley & Co (a firm owned by a Trinamool MP) with the officer-in-charge of Haldia police station, three days before Haldia Bulk Terminals suspended operations at both its berths. The administration, however, chose to look the other way.
While one of the complaints alleged that workers of Ripley and Co, a stevedoring company that handles the on-shore cargo, had threatened to physically harm the port officials, the other stated that workers of AM Enterprise, a clearing agent, joined Ripley workers to obstruct the port's regular activities at HBT's mechanised Berths 2 and 8, the two mechanised berths operated by HBT.
HBT suspended its operations at the port on September 22 and finally quit the state on October 31, blaming lawlessness.
"As learnt, some private workers, including Ripley and Co, are going to obstruct regular activities at the port. They may bodily harm port employees, officers and obstruct lawful activities of the port," DA Khan, assistant traffic officer, wrote in his complaint on September 19.
Incidentally, on the same day, KoPT chairman Manish Jain also wrote to home secretary Basudeb Banerjee seeking immediate intervention to ensure smooth functioning of the port. On September 7, Jain had approached chief secretary Samar Ghosh.
The letters in the possession of HT indicate that business interests, and not just worker interests, were at work in Haldia.
The officer, who lodged the complaint on behalf of Damodar Nayak, manager, (shipping and cargo-handling) requested the officer-in-charge of Haldia police station to deploy adequate personnel for smooth functioning of the port. On September 18, Amal Kumar Dutta, manager (administration) of Haldia Dock Complex lodged another complaint with the Haldia police station alleging that workers of Ripley and Co and AM Enterprise had kept the port officials locked inside the dock area.
In yet another plea to the district magistrate on September 20, Dutta requested the administration to examine the possibility of imposing Section 144 CrPC in and around the dock areas. However, all these pleas fell on deaf ears. A month later on October 19, Calcutta High Court, acting upon an HBT complaint, directed the administration to provide security to the company.
Meanwhile, rubbishing Trinamool's claim that HBT had to pull out because of labour unrest, a labour union has circulated a leaflet claming that the trouble was a "conflict of business interests between two groups". Kolkata Port Shramik Union, affiliated to HMS, has written, "Berths two and eight have been lying idle for two months because of conflict of interest between two business groups."