Kitex Garments alleges harassment by govt, withdraws from

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Rs 3,500 crore project in Kerala Kochi, Jun 29 (PTI) A major industrial group in Kerala on Tuesday announced withdrawal from a Rs 3,500 crore investment project, alleging harassment by state government officials.

Kitex Garments Ltd said it has decided to withdraw from the project signed during the 'Ascend Global Investors Meet' organised by the state government in Kochi in January 2020.

In a statement, Sabu Jacob, chairman of Kitex group, said it was very difficult for him to run the existing industrial units in the state.

He alleged that various units of Kitex were raided 10 times by officials from various departments during the past one month.

Jacob alleged that officials, comprising 40-50 in numbers, entered the factory units, carried out searches, prevented workers including women employees from doing their job, grilled them and harassed them on various occasions.

He claimed that the officials did not reveal the reasons for conducting such searches and what violations were committed by the company.

Noting that the Kitex factory has been functioning here for the past 26 years and it has over 10,000 employees, Jacob alleged that the officials arrive with a huge team violating COVID-19 protocol.

The officials are also accompanied by camera teams of online media, he claimed.

Talking to reporters, Jacob said if such a witchhunt is continued, the company will take a decision on whether to close it down or shift its units to other states.

There was no immediate reaction from the state government to Jacob's allegations.

Jacob has been at loggerheads with the state's ruling CPI(M) and opposition Congress after a party floated by him entered the electoral political arena and fielded candidates in eight seats in Ernakulam district for the Assembly polls held in April this year.

'Twenty20', the industrial charity outfit-turned- political party, had scripted an impressive victory in the civic polls held in December last year in parts of Ernakulam district.

In 2015, 'Twenty20' contested the local body polls in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat near here and created history by winning 17 of the 19 gram panchayat seats.

In the 2020 civic elections, 'Twenty20' not only retained Kizhakkambalam panchayat by an impressive margin, but also captured power in neighbouring panchayats of Aikkaranad, Kunnathunadu and Mazhuvannur.

Besides, it had also emerged as a major force in Vengola gram panchayat, winning several wards.

'Twenty20', a brainchild of Jacob, had started as the development initiative of the Rs 12 billion Anna-Kitex Group founded by his father M C Jacob in 1968. PTI TGB BN BALA BN BALA

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