Chinsurah/Kolkata: The chief executive officer of a jute mill in West Bengal`s Hooghly district was on Sunday beaten to death on factory premises allegedly by mill workers, as an angry Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blamed BJP and CPI(M) for it.
CEO of North Brook Jute Mill HK Maheswari was beaten up by workers of the factory at Bhadreswar when he rejected their demand for an increase in the weekly working hours to enable them to get paid more as payment is made according to hours of work, district SP Sunil Chowdhury said.
The workers met Maheswari at 11 AM in his chamber and demanded, besides other things, that the weekly working hours be increased to 40 from the present 25.
The CEO`s refusal to meet the demands led to an altercation and the workers assaulted Maheswari, injuring him seriously. The CEO was taken to a private nursing home where he died, Chowdhury said.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the killing and alleged that it was an act of "CPI(M) and BJP goons".
"According to information that I have got, (BMS) and CITU members brutally beat up Maheswari. I have talked to the local police about it," the Chief Minister said.
"It is very unfortunate. I heard that members of the unions of CPI(M) and BJP assembled at the jute mill with their demands and CEO H K Maheswari came out to hear them when he was beaten up mercilessly," Banerjee said in Kolkata pointing out that TMC did not have any union at that jute mill.
Banerjee alleged, "BJP leaders were unleashing terror through provocative speeches since they came to power at the Centre. Yesterday, CPI(M) and BJP goons had killed four TMC workers at Raidighi in South 24-Paganas district."
"We will never allow such things to happen. Strong action will be taken and the culprits must be punished. Nobody will be spared," the Chief Minister warned.
BJP and CPI(M) denied that they were in any way involved in the killing of Maheswari.
West Bengal BJP general secretary Shamik Bhattacharya
asked the Chief Minister, who holds the Home portfolio, to stop making such sweeping statements and concentrate on maintaining law and order in the state which had "completely broken down".
"Mamata Banerjee should stop making such statements. Otherwise people henceforth won`t take her comments seriously. It is really hilarious to hear such allegations from the Chief Minister of the state," Bhattacharya told.
The killing of an industrialist would have an adverse impact on the state, Bhattacharya said adding that Banerjee should think about undertaking a reshuffle of the ministry as a whole as she has failed miserably to perform her duty.
CITU, the trade union of CPI(M), too denied Banerjee`s charge.
"It is a baseless allegation. We in the CITU believe in constructive trade union. We don`t believe in destructive trade union which is now a days being pursued by trade unions close to the ruling party," CITU West Bengal general secretary Shyamal Chakarborty told.
"We condemn such violent acts and the guilty should be arrested and punished," he said.
The North Brook Jute Mill is owned by Prakash Choraria, who could not be contacted for his reaction.
Denouncing the killing of the jute mill CEO H K Maheswari, former chairman of Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) Sanjay Kajaria said the "heinous" act has made the survival of the ailing jute industry uncertain.
"Jute sector needs a political solution. Both the Centre and the West Bengal government need to set differences aside and discuss to find out an amicable solution to prevent such incidents," Kajaria said.
The present IJMA Chairman, Raghav Gupta, was abroad and could not contacted.