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Talks inside, muscle-flexing outside
ECL waits for assurance

Asansol, July 23: Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) and unions could not arrive at a consensus today at a meeting called against the backdrop of the company’s threat to shut down a mine from Saturday.

ECL said it was still awaiting police action against a Trinamul leader accused of assaulting and intimidating a manager. Sources said an assurance from the political leadership or the authorities that the security of managers would be ensured might help break the impasse.

But the Trinamul union leader, Chunulal Mishra, was seen taking part in a demonstration near the colliery office while the talks were going on inside. The protesters were demanding that the J.K. Nagar coal mine in Raniganj be kept open.

Mishra had secured anticipatory bail on Monday.

The police did not arrest him before that although the alleged attack had taken place on July 18 and the company had filed the complaint the same day.

“There is no question of reconsidering our decision as we are fed up with the increasing hooliganism of union leader Mishra. He has become so desperate that he continued with his high-handed behaviour even after we lodged police complaint against him and suspended him,” said Sanjay Singh, the ECL general manager for the Satgram mining area.

“We had lodged two more complaints, apart from the one lodged in connection with the assault on B.K. Singh (a colliery manager). But police did not take any action against him,” Sanjay Singh said.

Asked how Mishra, who has been suspended by ECL, entered the colliery today to take part in a protest, a senior police officer said: “It is the responsibility of ECL to see who should enter its premises. We have nothing to do about that.”

The officer added: “We have started a case regar- ding the complaint lodged by B.K. Singh. We are investigating the two other compl- aints. The accused has obtained anticipatory bail and so we can’t arrest him immediately.”

Additional deputy commissioner of police (central), Biswajit Ghosh, declined to comment.

Asansol BJP MP Babul Supriyo said he had called up the ECL management last evening and appealed to them to reconsider their decision to close down the mine.

“I strongly criticise and oppose what the Trinamul trade union leader did with the colliery manager and also want his punishment but at the same time I cannot support the decision to shut down the mine for this reason as many workers engaged there will suffer,” the MP said over phone. “I have urged the ECL management to reconsider their decision,” he said.

Dola Sen, the state INTTUC president, asked about ECL, said she did not know of the incident. “I have asked the INTTUC district unit president to send me a report…. We are a responsible trade union,” she said.

Hareram Singh, the general secretary of INTTUC union in the ECL mines, said: “We are investigating the complaint against our union leader Chunulal Mishra and have already show-caused him…. ECL cannot close down the mine putting 1,200 miners into trouble for allegations against him (Mishra). The miners are disappointed and angry.”

Another union said that all the employees should not be made to suffer.

“We have appealed to the ECL management that they should not shut down the J.K. Nagar coal mine as 1,200 miners working there would suffer following the decision. They are not involved with any misdeed, then why should they be put in trouble of going to another mine to work?” asked Jayprakash Yadav, the Citu secretary at the mine.

“The ECL management has suspended the accused INTTUC union leader, who is also a miner and has also lodged a police complaint against him, but why should they close down a mine?” Yadav asked.