In a return of militant trade unionism in West Bengal, the CEO of a jute mill was beaten to death allegedly by workers on factory premises today, leading to political blame game with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blaming BJP and CPI(M) for it, a charge rejected by both.
CEO of North Brook Jute Mill at Bhadreswar in Hooghly district neighbouring Kolkata H K Maheswari, around 60 years old, was badly beaten up by agitated factory workers when he rejected their demand for increase in weekly working hours so that they are paid more, Hooghly SP Sunil Chowdhury said.
"It was CPI(M) and BJP's men who had gathered there," the Chief Minister claimed while describing the incident as "very unfortunate".
Both BJP and CPI(M), however, denied their involvement and claimed that the incident went exposed the law and order situation in West Bengal amid fears expressed by industrialists that the incident had put a question mark on the survival of the ailing jute industry.
"There was a meeting scheduled there over some issues with the workers at 5.00 PM. But some CITU and BMS union members gathered within the mill premises in the morning itself and Maheswari came out of office to talk to them," Banerjee told a news channel.
"According to information that I have got, BMS and CITU members brutally beat up Maheswari. I have talked to the local police about it," she said.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) is affiliated to RSS, while Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) is the trade union wing of CPI(M).
Banerjee said she had asked police to take strong action against the culprits.
The SP said the workers met Maheswari at 11 AM and demanded that the weekly working hours be increased to 40 from the present 25 and also submitted a list of other demands.
The refusal of the CEO to meet the workers' demands led to an altercation and the workers assaulted Maheswari.
The CEO, who suffered serious injuries, died while being taken to hospital.
Asserting that her party's trade union body was not involved in the incident, Banerjee said, "We have no direct Trinamool Congress trade union there. Sobhandeb has a small unit there."
TMC MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay is a former president of the party's trade union wing INTTUC. He was replaced by Dola Sen, who lost the recent Lok Sabha election to BJP's Babul Supriyo in Asansol.
The Chief Minister