Haldia, Oct. 29: An official who was allegedly hounded out of Haldia was coerced into sending a text message that suggested he was leaving on his own accord, his colleague has told The Telegraph.
The claim assumes significance against the backdrop of suggestions that police were planning to cite the text message as evidence to disprove accounts that three officials of Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) were abducted by an armed group and driven out on Saturday night.
"Captain Jolly was forced to do so," Jagadish Behara said from Vizag this evening, replying to a question if Manpreet Jolly sent the text message to the inspector in charge of Haldia, M. Hossain.
The question arose because sources close to the local Trinamul leadership claimed the text message proved that the abduction did not take place and the three officials were actually escorted out by the police after they feared for their safety because of unrest.
But Behara rejected the contention that he and his colleagues were taken away in a police jeep. "If that is the case, why did they (the assailants) break open the door?"
District superintendent of police S.K. Jain also said he had "no knowledge" of the police escorting the officials to Mecheda station. "I have no knowledge of such a thing. I will enquire before commenting on it," Jain said.
Earlier, a source close to the family of Subhendu and Sisir Adhikari, both Trinamul MPs, said: "The three officials were not kidnapped, rather the police responded to their plea when they called up the police station saying they were feeling unsafe. The police then escorted them to the railway station. The officials also gave in writing that the police escorted them to the station."
Asked why the police had not produced the written declaration so far, the source said it would be furnished in court.
Late tonight, SP Jain said: "It was found that Mr Jolly had checked out of Royal Park Hotel (near the apartment where the alleged abduction took place) at 1.20am on Sunday. After that Mr Jolly sent an SMS to the inspector saying that they were leaving the town on their own."
Behara corroborated the SP's statement but added: "Captain Jolly joined HBT recently and was staying at the hotel. He came to see us in our flat on Saturday night. After we were forced to get into the jeep, he said his luggage was at the hotel and that he had to pay the bill. So, the abductors took us to the hotel and asked him to get the stuff in two minutes. He got his luggage, came down, paid the bill and got into the jeep. But a hotel boy asked us to wait till he checked the room, following which we left."
HBT today said it was "evaluating available options". A statement from the company said: "We had wished to resume our operations in Haldia at the earliest, especially after we made the requisite advance payment for police protection. However, yesterday's events have shocked all at HBT. We… are evaluating and deliberating on the available options."