Peeled-off paint on a flat door that was allegedly broken open on Sunday during the alleged abduction of three HBT officials. Picture by Jahangir Badsa
Haldia, Oct. 30: Three Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) workers who had led a march yesterday in favour of the mechanised cargo handling company today alleged that cops tried to take them to the police station last night.
Rahim Mallik, one of the three workers, said a police team came to his house in Bhagyabantapur village after midnight. “One of the policemen pulled the hair of one of my relatives who was sleeping beside the window. He asked him to call me and threatened to break the main gate if he did not do so immediately,” Rahim said.
“My elder brother Rafikul, who lives in a house beside mine, came out and asked the police why they had come. The cops told him that a complaint had been lodged against me and they wanted to take me to the police station,” said 42-year-old Rahim, who works as a safety assistant for HBT.
He said he listened to the conversation from behind a window. “The police could not explain the charge against me.”
“While my elder brother was talking to the policemen, about 20 villagers gathered in front of my house and asked the cops how they could take me away when they could not explain the charge. The police team left after that,” Rahim said.
But around 1.30am, a bigger team from Durgachak police station surrounded Rahim’s house. “They woke up my relative, pointed a revolver at him and ordered him to open the door,” Rahim said. “As soon as I opened the gate, the policemen started dragging me by the hand, saying ‘thanay chal (come with us to the police station)’.”
When Rahim’s wife Nurbanu Bibi tried to stop the cops, one of them allegedly hit her on the head with a torch, pulled her by the hand and beat her with a stick. By then, over 100 villagers had gathered at the spot. “We could not tolerate it any longer. We armed ourselves with whatever we could and chased the policemen away,” said Masuda Begum, a 40-year-old resident.
Rahim lodged a complaint with the additional district magistrate of Haldia mentioning the presence of some “outsiders” among the police personnel.
The police also went to the houses of Sheikh Siraj, 40, a dumper helper, and Bablu Sahoo, 38, an HBT driver, in Sutahata. They too had taken part in yesterday’s march during which HBT employees carried placards requesting the government to intervene so that the company did not leave Haldia and they could earn a living.
Siraj said a police team called out his name around 2.30am. “I became scared and crawled under the bed. My wife Kashmina told the police that I was not at home. They wanted to search the house but my wife said only she and our two daughters were at home and she would raise an alarm if the cops entered. The police left soon after.”
Sahoo said he was not at home when the police came. “After yesterday’s procession, I had apprehended trouble and stayed the night at a relative’s house. My wife was at home with our two sons. When my wife told the police I was not home, they accused her of lying and shone the torch through the windows. They left after some time.”
The subdivisional police officer of Haldia, Amitava Maity, said police teams had gone to the houses of the three HBT workers following a complaint lodged yesterday by INTTUC leader Tushar Mondal.
“The police had gone to arrest the three persons after Mondal lodged a complaint accusing them of misusing the INTTUC flag. According to the complaint, the workers had falsely claimed they were INTTUC workers. The police did not resort to any highhandedness,” Maity said.