Robbers rowed down the Hooghly to enter the premises of Hooghly Dock and Port Engineers Limited (HDPEL) at Salkia, Howrah, on Tuesday morning and loot timber and scrap iron and steel parts worth more than Rs 1 lakh.
The gang of 15 overpowered two guards when they tried to resist, sources said. They critically wounded the duo, hitting them on their heads and chests with iron rods.
This is the first time the HDPEL complex — one of the oldest shipyards in the country — has been targeted, though there have been many instances of river pirates raiding establishments along the banks in Howrah and Hooghly districts.
Police said 15 robbers came in a country boat and anchored around 3am at the company jetty at Salkia, which doesn’t have a wall and offered unhindered access to the premises.
“The men looted logs of wood and scrap iron and steel parts used in ships and boats. When two guards spotted them and tried to resist, they were brutally attacked with iron rods. The robbers fled with the loot, leaving the guards bleeding,” said a senior officer of Golabari police station.
Guards Swapan Sarkar, 38 and Sachinandan Adhikari, 42, were now recuperating at Howrah state general hospital. Sarkar received four stitches on his head while Adhikari has wounds on his chest, shoulders and legs.
The police have arrested two robbers and recovered some of the items.
The INTTUC-run union said the incident could have been averted if the company had deployed more men to guard the premises.
“The entire unit has just eight security guards in different shifts. On Monday night, two security men were guarding the four-acre property,” said Ashok Ghosh, the general secretary of the union.
Sahadeb Saha, the head of HDPEL’s Salkia unit, assured that the number of security staff would be increased to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Established in 1819 as a private sector unit and nationalised in 1984, the HDPEL comes under the shipping ministry.
It used to build big ships but for the past 20 years it is primarily making smaller vessels, dredgers and fishing trawlers. It repairs ships and boats at its Salkia and Nazirgunge units, both in Howrah.