People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 44

November 04, 2012

Haldia: From Industry to Horror 

From Our Special

Correspondent in Kolkata


HALDIA, which had become one of the leading industrial locations in West Bengal, has come under serious distress in the last few months. The hoodlumraj of Trinamool Congress along with complete callousness of the state government have resulted in closure of industries and loss of hundreds of jobs.


The incident at Haldia port, over operations of ABG Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) exposed this ugly situation. ABG, a cargo handling concern, was facing troubles and resistance from TMC-led groups for quite some time now. The principal reason behind the untoward incidents was business rivalry. Another concern, owned by the family of a TMC Rajya Sabha member, dominated for years in the same business. It is alleged that the TMC leaders in Haldia dock created trouble at their behest. ABG also moved Kolkata High Court which directed the police to give adequate security to ABG staff so that they could work in two berths of the dock. However, TMC hoodlums, mostly brought from outside, threatened the workers, camped near the dock and resisted any activity in those berths. This was being projected as workers resentment, as ABG sacked 250 casual workers recently. While CITU demanded reinstatement of the sacked staff, TMC moved to stop work in those berths. Though officially, the state government has declared everything as normal in Haldia. Ships were docked for days and many left for other ports threatening the utility of Haldia port.


The entire episode took a shivering turn when a group of armed anti-socials raided the residences of senior officers of ABG at dead of night, abducted them along with wife and child of one, and forced them to leave Haldia.   According to an HBT statement, three officials  Manpreet Jolly, Jagadish Behara and Bushan Patil, including his wife and 1-year-old daughter  were abducted by about 50 unidentified persons. The company said they were released later after being threatened at gun point that they should not set foot again in Haldia.


While the criminals were trying to enter into their apartments, HBTs managers made many calls to the police begging for protection. The required help never came even after two hours. An FIR has been filed on the incident, said CEO of HBT. The company said that if the law and order situation deteriorates, the company will also be forced to pull out of Haldia.


Dubbing the whole issue as "hooliganism", leader of the opposition Surya Kanta Mishra said: "If such things continue, no industry will stay in Bengal. Haldia Port was developed brick by brick during the Left Front's rule. But now the anarchy by Trinamool leaders is impacting its operation and the state's economy as well." Mishra demanded a full fledged inquiry about the secret understanding between the concern owned by TMC  Rajya Sabha member and administration. He alleged that TMC was playing a dirty political game to chase away rivals to help the said concern.


Meanwhile, in Haldia many other industrial units are facing problem of extortion. TMC leaders are forcing them to sack existing staffs and replace them with lists supplied by them. A fear psychosis has gripped Haldia and nearly 100 high ranking officials of various concerns have left their jobs. Thousands of workers are facing acute problem as their jobs are threatened, many left for other cities in search of job.


A vigorous industrial hub is gradually turning into a horror zone.