Of CEO’s murder and jute industry crisis

It has been the season of bad news from West Bengal for some time now. By now you must be well versed with the names of legends like Tapas Pal.

In this post, I share two of my recent pieces that I did on the gruesome murder of a CEO at a jute mill 35 kilometres from Calcutta. Industrial disputes have been reported from the whole of the country in recent times (Maruti labour unrest in Haryana, for example), but in Bengal, what with its legacy of militant trade unionism, the incident assumes significance. The June 15 lynching has been described the most gruesome in recent times and comes as a blow to the government’s desperate attempts to woo industries.

He carried a gun? No, two guns? He beat workers with a rod? Insulted them and let them rot in nasty housing? Cut their income? A fortnight after HK Maheshwari, the elderly CEO of a Kolkata jute mill, was beaten to death by workers, our writer wades into a pool of vicious rumours. How do these rumours square with his grieving family’s vision of Maheshwari as a benevolent discipline-lover? And what about the workers, will anyone ever listen to their side? What is causing their still-blazing rage? Our writer meets all the sides in this tense standoff, all of them tied to the sinking jute industry, and emerges with complications and some answers.

This was the blurb of the long-form published in Yahoo! Originals. Read the story here.

Bengal will be finished if the jute industry is allowed to rot like this,” says Prakash Choraria, chairman of the Punrasar Group, which owns three jute mills in West Bengal including Northbrook. “The Centre must come to the rescue. We cannot but look up to the government for a lifeline like we’ve always done.

This quote is from the piece published in The News Minute. Read more here.

It is not difficult to understand the reason for the crisis in the jute sector. When was the last time you used a jute product? I’m sure you must be trying hard to remember your last jute bag. But jute bags and such other “fancy items” are too small a part of the jute industry to matter. It is the sacks in which our foodgrains and sugar come packed that run the industry. When was the last time you saw your monthly ration of wheat and rice come in a jute bag, the friendly bore ka basta?

We cannot afford to lose the good old bori, for the sake of the millions growing jute and working in the factories, for the sake of the environment.


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