Calcutta, Oct. 19: Calcutta High Court today directed the administration and police to ensure security at the Haldia dock so that willing employees of a cargo handler can work and banned rallies and blockades near the main gate.
The court issued the orders after refusing to accept official reports that said everything was “normal” in the area.
A chain of events that traces its roots to political arm-twisting and interference in executive decisions had thrown the port into a flux. Citing paucity of work, mechanised cargo handler Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) had retrenched 275 workers, following which the company had alleged assault on workers ready to work.
The state government had said the reported unrest was aimed at tarnishing the image of the government. “It is a blackmailing tactic to give the state government a bad image. I came and found that Haldia port is functioning. A process is on to malign the government,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said on October 9.
Today, Justice Dipankar Dutta asked the East Midnapore district magistrate and police superintendent to deploy adequate force inside the dock complex. HBT, which handles cargo in berths 2 and 8, had moved the court, saying the police had not taken any action to protect the workers.
Justice Dutta also issued a ban on rallies, meetings and blockades within a 100-metre radius of the main gate of the dock.
“The cost for deploying the force will be borne by” HBT, the order stated.
The order followed reports submitted by the district magistrate, the SP and the officer in charge of Haldia’s Sutahata police station. The officials informed the court that they had received complaints from HBT and carried out an inspection during which everything was found “normal”.
But the judge remarked during the proceedings: “This court is not accepting the reports. It is a fact that HBT had lodged the complaints. But the police did not take any action on the basis of that.”
HBT chief executive Gurpreet Malhi expressed “greatest satisfaction” with the order.