After asking chief minister Mamata Banerjee to resolve the impasse around its liquor operations in West Bengal, IFB Agro Industries has found support from the state’s governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar, who has called for a deeper probe while raising concerns about a conducive investment climate in the state.
Following the alleged attack at its Noorpur liquor making facility in the South 24 Parganas district on June 25 by some 150 goons, which led to suspension of plant operations, Dhankhar called for a probe and has asked the state’s additional chief home secretary and additional chief finance secretary to submit a report within a week.
“These unidentified hooligans, armed with various types of weapons, forcibly entered the factory, beat up the security guards and practically held our employees/workers on duty hostage”, IFB said in a notice to the bourses.
The company alleged that anti-social elements also damaged CCTV cameras, computers, medical room and other infrastructure inside the factory and the distillery was forced shut, with employees and workers being asked to vacate the factory at gun point.
IFB has filed a complaint with the police which is probing the incident.
A statement issued by Raj Bhavan stated, “Such kind of actions do not promote conducive investment climate in the State. The manner in which the steps have been taken raise serious legal issues as also are worrisome.”
On the other hand, IFB said it cannot reopen the plant before a better environment is restored.
Dhankhar, who has been at loggerheads with Banerjee, took to the social media stating, “Events at IFB units at Dhankuni and Noorpur call for investigation with focus on role of District Magistrates and Police. State and Non-State Actors cannot be allowed to be law unto themselves”.
IFB was also engaged in a bitter fight with the West Bengal Excise department which had suspended and then revoked its licence in one of its country liquor facilities in Dankuni. The matter is being settled in court and after a favourable order IFB has resumed operations in this facility.
Questioning the rule of law in the state, Dhankhar sought an update from the additional chief secretary – finance over the circumstances and under what legal authority the additional district magistrate (ADM) and the Collector - Excise suspended the licence of IFB at Dankuni and also, under what circumstances the Excise Commissioner suspended an order imparted by the ADM on June 25, 2020 while the proceedings were also under challenge before the Calcutta High Court.
The statement from Raj Bhavan said, “Governor Dhankhar feels that such incidents where power is misused in such an arbitrary manner sends wrong signal to existing industrial units and discourages industrial investment in the state, leading to loss of opportunities for our youth. Such activities also adversely reflect on the quality of governance.”