The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steel assault arrest triggers backlash

Durgapur, Feb. 8: Intuc leaders Rana Sarkar and N.C. Nayek, accused of beating up Durgapur Steel Plant deputy general manager S.K. Hazra Choudhury, were arrested today, setting the stage for a marathon gherao and high-voltage scenes in court.

The duo, produced in the court of additional chief judicial magistrate court this afternoon, was denied bail.

'We have charged them with attempt to murder,' said Sankha Biswas, officer in charge of Durgapur police station.

Intuc supporters waving placards and black flags gheraoed general manager (steel) T.S. Suresh in his chamber from this morning till 8 tonight to protest against the arrests. Sarkar is an assistant organising secretary of the Intuc-led union at DSP while Nayek is a member.

The plant management has suspended the duo on the charge of assaulting Hazra Choudhury, who is the DGM of DSP's Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) department.

High drama unfolded at the court this afternoon when Sarkar and Nayek were denied bail. The court compound, 200 km from Calcutta, was milling with about 200 Intuc and Youth Congress supporters shouting slogans demanding immediate release of the union leaders.

When judge Santanu Dutta rejected the bail plea of the duo and sent them to jail custody, five Intuc workers, including Biswajit Biswas, the general secretary of the union, stormed into the court room, hurling abuse at the judge. A furious Dutta ordered police to arrest him.

When the policemen rushed to arrest the Intuc workers, they ran out of the courtroom and exhorted Intuc and Youth Congress supporters outside to attack the police.

'Police amakey arrest korchhe. Oder maro (They are trying to arrest me. Beat them up),' Biswas shouted.

At this, the crowd started hurling brickbats at the police. The police were outnumbered and beat a retreat but returned with reinforcements and jawans of the Rapid Action Force, led by the additional police superintendent of Durgapur, Anand Kumar.

They resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the mob. However, Biswas escaped in the melee.

'We have launched a search for Biswas. The honourable judge has asked us to arrest him, as what he has done amounts to contempt of court,' said Kumar.

Hazra Choudhury, who was beaten up with iron rods allegedly by Sarkar, Nayek and three other Intuc workers yesterday morning on the plant premises, was taken to the DSP hospital where a CT scan was carried out. Doctors suspect he has a suffered a crack in his hip.

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