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HBT ire near Adhikari home

Tamluk, Dec. 17: Over 150 retrenched workers of Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) today travelled 120km to Subhendu Adhikari’s East Midnapore home and burnt his effigy, holding the Tamluk MP responsible for the port handler’s exit last month.

The workers, who travelled in two buses from Haldia to Contai, were stopped outside the MP’s home by policemen. The mob, accompanied by some Congress activists, burnt the MP’s effigy 500m away.

Manoj Bera, 35, who drove a dumper before being sacked by HBT, said: “Subhendu Adhikari had promised that the retrenched HBT workers would get jobs. But I am still jobless. Our protest against the MP is justified.”

Before HBT’s exit from Hadia, 275 workers were retrenched in the first phase and 384 workers were sacked in the second phase.

The sacked workers have been holding demonstrations in Haldia, some led by the Congress.

The sacked workers said the kidnapping of three HBT officials from their homes by alleged Trinamul activists had forced the company to wind up operations.

“Trinamul MP Subhendu Adhikari has been publicly blaming HBT. Neither the state nor he has made any attempt to bring back ABG (the co-owner of HBT) to Haldia. No other company has come here,” said Sheikh Siraz, a former HBT worker.

Siraz, who has his wife and two school-going daughters to feed, threatened to sit on a fast unto death outside Adhikari’s Contai house if no employment was offered soon. He was a compounder at the HBT’s medical unit and earned Rs 15,000 a month.

Pradip Patra, who was a driver with HBT, today said the workers thought Adhikari would stand by them in their times of crisis. “On the contrary, he has been celebrating after forcing HBT to leave. We came to Contai to make people aware of his role,” he said.

Haldia Congress leader Kanistha Ponda, who took part in the demonstration, said: “The chief minister has been saying that her government has provided jobs to lakhs of youths. But why is she silent on the way 600 HBT workers lost their jobs? Trinamul workers drove away HBT to hand over the control of the port to a firm close to the party,” Ponda said.

Adhikari could not be contacted for a reaction.

Mahmood Hossain, the Trinamul general secretary in Haldia, said: “Adhikari has been working in the interest of the working class. The Citu is out to malign his image by making such false propaganda against him.”