| Choudhury after the attack. Picture by Rana Ghosh
Durgapur Feb. 7: A deputy general manager of Durgapur Steel Plant was beaten with iron rods and left bleeding profusely from the nose by a group of five workers allegedly led by a prominent Intuc leader.
S.K. Hazra Choudhury, who is also the general secretary of the Steel Executive Federation of India, was attacked when he was entering his chamber inside the complex around 8.15 am. The attackers fled in motorcycles after raining blows on him for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Choudhury's decision to suspend one of the five for a day after an inquiry into charges of misconduct is being seen as the reason behind the attack.
The assault comes at a time when chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is asking workers to cooperate in increasing production and shun militant trade unionism. But since 2003, several instances of militant trade unionism have been reported in the Durgapur-Asansol industrial belt.
In a first information report, the injured DGM (electrical) of DSP's Basic Oxygen Furnace (BOF) department named Rana Sarkar and N.C. Nayek ' members of the Intuc-affiliated Hindustan Steel Workers' Union ' and three others. While Sarkar is an assistant organising secretary of the union, Nayek is an active member. Both worked under Choudhury.
Choudhury had recently wrapped up an inquiry against Sarkar who was charged with 'misbehaviour and assault on another officer' two months ago and had placed him on a day's suspension tomorrow.
After the attackers fled, Choudhury managed to crawl to a window, open it and shout for help. Officers and employees who came to Choudhury's help from other departments found him lying on the ground, blood oozing from his nose.
Choudhury was carried outside the office, where he squatted as a mark of protest. About 400 officers of DSP also joined him in the dharna that carried on till 3 pm. The DGM refused to be shifted to hospital or have any food.
About 1,000 more officers who were not in the general shift rushed to the plant on hearing the news. All officers present at the plant boycotted lunch as a mark of protest.
The officers withdrew the agitation after senior DSP officials contacted managing director S.K. Rungta in Delhi. Rungta assured the officers that stern action would be taken against the culprits within 24 hours. Police said the accused are absconding.
His face and nose swollen, Choudhury told a news conference: 'Rana Sarkar, N.C. Nayek and three other workers of the BOF department beat me up today. I am shocked and shattered over the incident. I will not get myself medically treated or take any food. I can't simply accept what happened to me.'
Intuc leaders said Sarkar and Nayek were associated with it but denied they were involved in the attack.