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Soccer ‘extortion’ shuts down plant

Barjora (Bankura), Oct. 19: An executive of a private firm was beaten up by a CPM leader after he refused to pay Rs 4,000 for a football tournament.

The company has lodged a police complaint against panchayat member Anath Ghosh and suspended work at its fac-tory here since October 14 citing lack of security of its employees.

Ratan Tata had given the same reason while pulling his Nano project out of Bengal. Only, Mamata Banerjee’s mob, and not the CPM’s, had prompted his decision.

Yesterday, CPM supporters removed the suspension-of-work notice from the factory gate and threatened plant in-charge Roshan Ali Mollah with dire consequences if he did not resume work by Monday. The Trinamul Congress, which controls the local panchayat, also held a meeting and demanded the factory be reopened by Monday.

On October 14, Ghosh had barged into Mollah’s office and demanded Rs 4,000. The plant in-charge said: “I asked him why he came in without permission and told him we would pay Rs 71. Last year, we had paid Rs 61 for the tournament. But the panchayat leader started thumping on my table. When I told him to come later, he pounced on me.”

Guards rescued Mollah. “They caught hold of him but he slipped out as I went to call police,” said Mollah.

Barjora police, however, have already concluded that the CPM leader’s offence is not serious enough to warrant arrest. “What the Hatashuria gram panchayat member has done is not so serious that we will have to arrest him immediately. He had punched the plant in-charge and entered the fac-tory without permission. We are investigating the complaint,” said Debasish Roy, the inspector-in-charge.

The police have yet to register an FIR. They accepted Mollah’s complaint as a general diary and have not levelled any charge against Ghosh.

Ghosh had allegedly slapped a guard at the plant gate for asking him not to enter the factory without permission. A people’s representative needed no such permission, he had allegedly said.

Kalimata Vyapaar, which makes railway equipment about 220km from Calcutta, is a small unit with 35 employees. Managing director Vikas Jhawar said: “We have been facing problems since we started work in March. We are fed up of paying subscriptions either for pujas or party conferences or sports events, and all parties are the same.”

Bankura district magistrate Sundar Majumdar has asked the subdivisional officer to conduct an inquiry.

The Rs 5-crore factory is spread across three acres at Harirampur in the Barjora industrial area. The company has another plant in Howrah.

CPM district secretary Amiya Patra said: “We will probe the charge against Ghosh and punish him if he is guilty.”

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