Murder bid charge on sacked 14

Haldia, Jan. 16: Most of the retrenched Haldia Bulk Terminals workers arrested yesterday have been charged under non-bailable sections such as attempt to murder, destroying police vehicles and voluntarily causing grievous hurt using dangerous weapons.

The sacked workers, who were arrested during a rally to protest the government's alleged role in mechanical cargo handler HBT's exit, and lawyers appearing for them said the charges were "politically motivated". They said the workers neither attacked the policemen nor broke their vehicles.

Sixteen retrenched workers were arrested 25km from the venue of Bengal Leads.

Two of those arrested were, however, granted bail today by the subdivisional officer's court.

"The police have brought false charges against us. None of us tried to attack the police or any vehicle. We were not armed," arrested worker Sheikh Noor-e Alam said.

All 14 workers were remanded in two weeks' judicial custody.

One of the three lawyers appearing for the arrested workers, Bimal Majhi, said: "The arrests are politically motivated. The police have brought severe charges, including attempt to murder. But in the seizure list, the police did not mention any arms. All they could produce before the court were a few INTUC flags and some bricks, which could have been collected from the road."

Another lawyer appearing for the arrested workers, Gopal Das, said that despite bringing the charge of "grievous hurt", the police could not cite a single example of any policeman being hospitalised.

Assistant public prosecutor Taragati Ghatak said: "The police repeatedly asked the protesters to disperse but they hurled stones and bricks. Four policemen were injured."

The circle inspector of Mahishadal, Subhankar Dey, said the four policemen were treated and released from Haldia sub-divisional hospital. "The mob also ransacked a police vehicle. We will submit all documents to the court during the next hearing," Dey said.

Many sacked workers have decided to approach governor M.K. Narayanan at the Bengal Leads venue tomorrow "to seek justice".

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