The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Factory hands hurt in cop baton charge

At least a dozen workers of a plywood factory at Bishnupur, on the city’s southern fringes, were seriously injured on Monday after police resorted to a lathicharge to disperse them from Diamond Harbour Road.

The employees were protesting police inaction on Sunday night’s dacoity in the factory in which several workers and their family members were beaten up and slashed with razors. The gang made off with goods and cash worth several lakh rupees in a three-hour operation.

The injured were taken to a local hospital, but two of them were later shifted to SSKM Hospital when their condition took a turn for the worse.

According to additional superintendent of police (industrial) R.K. Singh, a Matador carrying around 40 armed men stopped in front of the factory just after midnight on Sunday. The men got off and entered the premises by scaling the wall.

Once inside, the dacoits split into groups and cornered the security guards. One of the groups then stormed the staff quarters and snatched money and jewellery from the family members of the employees.

When some of the residents tried to resist, the dacoits started beating them up. A few were even slashed with razors. The women were locked up in a room.

Meanwhile, the group, which was on guard on the ground floor, started loading the van with aluminium sheets priced at about Rs 5 lakh, while the others broke open the factory vault and stashed the cash in a bag.

On Monday, the morning-shift staff found the main gate of the factory wide open and the employees lying on the ground with their hands and legs tied. A few of them were still bleeding profusely. The local police was immediately informed, but without any effect.

Soon after, factory workers and local people blocked Diamond Harbour Road around 7 am to protest police inaction. At about 10 am, a huge contingent of police, led by officer in charge of Bishnupur thana Pradeep Roy, rushed to the spot.

They resorted to a lathicharge when the protestors refused to budge, demanding the arrest of the criminals. A police jeep was damaged by the mob. ASP Singh, however, denied the allegation of lathicharge.

Commercial manager of the factory R.K. Joshi said there had been a dacoity on the premises three years ago, but the police are yet to make a breakthrough.

“Yesterday’s incident has made the workers very insecure. Besides, we are surprised how the dacoits could enter the factory when a police van was supposed to be on patrol in the area,” Joshi added.

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