INTTUC to protest closure of ECL colliery near Durgapur

Asansol-Durgapur police arrested, the INTTUC unit president of Kumardihi – B colliery yesterday, for allegedly threatening and holding a gun to the forehead of an executive of the Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) colliery under Pandaveswar police station near Durgapur on August 30.

Kumardihi-B colliery near Durgapur

“We have arrested Bappaditya Mukherjee from a jungle in Kumardihi this evening and have charged him with intimidation and wrongful confinement. He will be produced in court tomorrow. A search is on for the others,” said S.S. Murugan, the assistant commissioner of police (east) yesterday.

On August 30, INTTUC unit president Bappaditya Mukherjee had threatened welfare officer of the colliery Dibyendu Ghosh and even held a gun at the executive’s forehead, when the latter questioned him about anomalies in the attendance register.

After Ghosh lodged the first information report, The Trinamool trade union members got furious and allegedly assaulted seven company executives outside the colliery the same night, damaged their cars and locked them in a room.

“They threatened to kill us if Ghosh did not withdraw the FIR,” one of the executives said. The police rescued them around 10 pm.

On August 31, ECL announced the closure of the colliery for an indefinite period after a section of INTTUC workers allegedly beat up and detained seven company officials for over three hours on Friday night. Unsafe work condition due to continuous threat of INTTUC supporters was cited as the reason for the closure.

The suspension of work order for an indefinite period by the The Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) – has come as a huge embarrassment for the ruling Trinamool Congress, specially at a time when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is trying to woo investors from across the country.

Trinamool leaders however criticised the coal major’s decision to close down Kumardih colliery and threatened agitation. INTTUC leaders in Asansol and Durgapur threatened to launch a movement against the company for shutting down the colliery, saying it was out to malign the image of the state government that is trying to attract investment to Bengal.

The INTTUC general secretary of all ECL collieries in the twin towns, Hareram Singh, said the union would organise a sit-in outside Kumardihi colliery from today.

“We are not supporting the treatment meted out to the ECL executives. But that doesn’t mean the company has to shut down the colliery. They are trying to attract the media’s attention,” Singh said.

The INTTUC leader added that the union would take the “strictest possible action” against Mukherjee and the others if they were found guilty.

Agriculture minister Malay Ghatak, who is from Asansol, also criticised ECL’s decision to shut down the colliery. “The ECL should not have closed down the colliery. Why does coal production have to suffer? INTTUC will hold a meeting tomorrow to protest this,” he said.

The ECL management today said it would take disciplinary action against Mukherjee and the other accused, all of whom are employees. “Mukherjee could be suspended. We have also identified the others who had detained our officials on Friday night and action will be taken against them also,” said Niladri Roy, the director (technical) of ECL.

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