Sankhini Apartments. Picture by Jahangir Badsa
Haldia, Nov. 1: The chief minister says nothing happened. But something is happening in Sankhini Apartments.
Residents of the building, from where three Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) officials were allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint and packed out of Haldia, said they would like to beef up security by increasing the number of night guards, installing CCTVs, intercoms and alarm bells.
Last evening, the flat owners’ associations of Sankhini and two neighbouring building complexes discussed security measures at a meeting held to prepare for Kali puja.
Some residents said requesting anonymity that Saturday night’s alleged abductions had rattled the occupants.
“We are scared. Some of us were approached by the media but we said we did not see or hear anything for fear of being identified and targeted,” said a resident of Sankhini’s Kamini block, where the HBT officials used to stay.
A lady who lives close to the flat of Bhusan Patil, one of the HBT officials allegedly kidnapped, had told The Telegraph on October 30: “I had taken sleeping pills and went into a deep sleep. I wouldn’t know what happened.” Another girl had said her brother was the right person to speak to, while the building president had said he was not at home at the time of the alleged incident.
Asked about last night’s meeting, a Haldia Petrochemicals official who lives with his family in Sankhini said: “Three security guards, each working eight-hour shifts, have been hired for the four blocks of Sankhini. So there is only one guard at night. We want to keep at least two guards at night. We have also decided to install closed-circuit TVs, an intercom system and alarms. We want to increase our security in the wake of Saturday’s incident,” the official said.
Another resident said chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s comment that “nothing happened in Haldia” had increased their feeling of insecurity.
“Even before the investigations into the alleged abductions was completed, the chief minister declared nothing had happened. Who do we turn to for justice? If I say these things openly, I could be abducted or harassed. So please don’t ask my name or where I work. But this much I will say, all of us at Sankhini believe that a security beef-up is a must,” the resident said.
The Sankhini security guard who was on duty on the night of the alleged abduction, Parimal Patra, said: “That night I had to climb up to the fourth floor when the miscreants came to call up the police. Had there been an alarm system, I could have switched it on and the miscreants would have fled because of the loud noise.”
The same fear psychosis is playing on the minds of the two nearby housing complexes whose representatives attended the meeting.
A resident of the Hindustan Fertiliser Corporation (HFC) housing complex, Satinath Bhattacharya, said: “We are also feeling scared after what happened at Sankhini, which is within a kilometre of our complex. We had been relying on the police so far. We don’t have security guards. We will request the HFC authorities to ask the six night guards at the adjoining closed factory premises to keep a watch on our building complex as well.”
Residents of the Calcutta Port Trust housing complex also voiced concerns about their security. One of the residents, a senior official of a private company in Haldia, said: “There are no security guards here. We feel insecure.”