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Ire at ‘unfair’ jute trade

June 21: Labour minister Purnendu Bose today alleged that “unfair trade practices” was one of the problems plaguing the jute industry in Bengal, six days after a mill chief executive was beaten to death in Hooghly allegedly by workers.

Bose’s comments appeared to be targeted at mill owners. On Monday, however, the chief minister had hinted that labour unions backed by the CPM and the BJP were behind the attack on H.K. Maheshwari, the chief executive of Northbrook jute mill in Champdani.

“Unfair trade practices must be stopped to save the jute industry,” Bose said at Champdani this morning after holding a meeting at the local municipality with members of seven of the nine unions at Northbrook. Members of the CPM-backed Citu and the Forward Bloc-affiliated TUCC did not attend the meeting.

Bose said he would meet Northbrook owner Prakash Chorariya in the minister’s Assembly chamber on Thursday to expedite the process of reopening the mill, which was shut down following the murder. “I will take up all key issues with Chorariya,” he said.

When this newspaper contacted Chorariya this evening, he said he was busy and could not speak.

Bose said that besides unfair trade practices, “unfair labour practices and unfair involvement of a section of politicians in mills’ affairs” must be stopped.

Told that the chief minister had appeared to blame the BJP and Left unions for the murder, the labour minister echoed his boss. “Those who have lost power in the state and those who have come to power at the Centre have an unholy understanding. They are responsible,” Bose said.

Bose visited Maheshwari’s home today and spoke to his widow, Sunita, for half an hour. The minister said Sunita had demanded “justice”, security for her and her family and prompt clearance of her husband’s dues. “All demands will be pursued,” the labour minister said.