The Shyam SEL factory in Jamuria. Picture by Arup Sarkar
Durgapur, July 20: Police are yet to act on an extortion threat complaint lodged by Shyam SEL against two Trinamul members four days ago while the Burdwan administration has been quick to conduct a probe into an allegation of encroachment the duo have levelled against the company.
The different approaches to dealing with the complaints have surprised officials of Shyam SEL Power Ltd in Asansol.
Shyam SEL lodged the complaint of extortion attempts and intimidation against Trinamul’s Alok Das and Chanchal Banerjee at Jamuria police station on July 16, but the police have sought a “detailed complaint” citing “lack of specifics”.
Shyam SEL’s assistant general manager (HR), Sumit Chakraborty, had forwarded a copy of the police complaint to the chief minister’s office.
The Burdwan administration, on the other hand, is on the verge of completing a probe into the allegation levelled by Das, a Trinamul Youth Congress leader, and Chanchal, a party worker, on June 30 that Shyam SEL had encroached on government land to implement its expansion plans. The Burdwan administration is expected to submit a report to the government “shortly”.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had yesterday said a “small incident” had been “blown out of proportion”, prompting many to wonder whether the police would take action against Das and Chanchal, who were yesterday suspended by Trinamul at a time there is renewed pressure on the government to send a positive message to industry.
Mamata had also said the “actual problem” in Jamuria, where the Shyam SEL factory is located, was “grabbing of government land”, the comments coinciding with the Burdwan administration’s probe into the allegation of the two Trinamul members.
Shyam SEL has denied the allegation of encroachment.
Additional district magistrate (land and land reforms) of Burdwan, Ashok Saha, who yesterday went to the Shyam SEL plant to inquire into the allegation of encroachment, said the steel factory had begun soil testing on a two-acre government plot. The plot is part of the 24 acres Shyam SEL wants to buy from the government.
“The company has begun soil testing on the two-acre government plot close to a canal. Villagers have objected to this. Shyam SEL has dumped mud on the canal bank, disrupting the water flow,” Saha said.
Shyam SEL assistant general manager (HR) Chakraborty said: “We had started soil testing thinking that we would get the land. But we stopped the work after villagers protested.”
Shyam Group of Industries vice-president R.K. Chakraborty said the company was “expecting to get possession of the land soon”. He denied the allegation of encroachment.
District magistrate Saumitra Mohan refused comment, saying the Burdwan administration would submit the report to the government shortly.
Shyam SEL officials today wondered why the administration initiated the inquiry against the company but did not take action against the two Trinamul members despite the complaint.
“It is surprising that the police have not yet started a case against the Trinamul leaders but the administration is so keen to investigate the false allegation of encroachment brought against the two. The police have sought a detailed complaint from us. But that seems to be a formality. They could have started a case on the basis of our complaint,” a Shyam SEL official said.
HR assistant general manager Chakraborty said the company would submit the detailed complaint tomorrow.
The officer of Jamuria police station who had pointed out that the complaint lacked specifics said today: “We need to know the details about the threats and the amount of money demanded.”
Additional deputy commissioner of police (central), Biswajit Ghosh, declined comment.
Das today iterated his allegation that Shyam SEL had encroached on government land. “I had launched a movement against this. Now, Shyam SEL has lodged a false complaint against me,” he said.
Asansol BJP MP Babul Supriyo today visited the Shyam SEL plant and spoke to the management.
“I am happy to learn that Trinamul has suspended the two leaders accused of threatening the plant management and demanding money from them. But I am surprised at the way the chief minister described the issue as a small incident. I have assured the plant officials of ensuring smooth operations,” he said.