Kolkata, Jul 19: Days after a leading industrial group complained of threats and extortion demands by criminals allegedly affiliated to the ruling Trinamool Congress, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday termed the matter as “one sided propaganda and canard”.

Describing the entire episode as a “small matter” involving mere exchange of words, Banerjee said she herself enquired into the matter and found that the way the incident was being represented had no similarity with the real happenings.

“This is a small matter. There were only exchange of words, and nothing else. Where doesn’t exchange of words occur?” the chief minister told media persons at the airport at the end of her two-day trip to north Bengal. Banerjee said her government always takes action whenever “somebody commits something wrong”.

“But the way the incident is being represented, this is one sided propaganda, canard. There is no similarity with what really happened. I have enquired myself and found that somebody was trying to grab the state government’s land,” she said.

Banerjee wondered how government land be taken without informing the government. “The details will be made public later. (The way the incident is being projected) is not the real case. I maintain that my government is very transparent, unlike that run by the preceding CPI-M regime.”

The chief minister said if any party worker was found guilty, “he will not be spared, and quick action will be taken”. The Shyam Group of Industries, whose arm Shyam SEL Power Limited now runs the 0.5 million tonnes per annum steel unit alongside a captive power plant at Jamuria in Burdwan district, has intimated the chief minister’s office as also Industries Minister Amit Mitra and Labour Minister Moloy Ghatak of the threats and ransom demands.

The complaint to the Jamuria police station spoke of “life threat” to the senior officials, ransom demands, and “creating nuisance” at the plant premises and the railway siding. The complaint specifically named two youths, who are local leaders of the Trinamool Congress.
However, one of the two youths named in the police complaint – Aloke Das – has denied having made any ransom demands.

Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee Friday said both party leaders named in the police complaint would be show-caused. “Such incidents cause serious damage to the party’s image,” he had said. A Trinamool source said both the leaders have been placed under suspension.

Criticising the chief minister for terming the incident as a “small matter” and “one sided propaganda”, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Babul Supriyo said: “If the highest levels of the administration do not even acknowledge such serious incidents, then how can one expect the police to act against the perpetrators?” Supriyo alleged the disturbances were the result of the fight between a senior minister and a Trinamool labour union leader over whose group would “collect the extortion money”.

The first phase of the three-stage project – slated to produce 1.1 MTPA steel once complete – was made operational in 2011 by injecting Rs.1,500 crore. The expansion for the second phase was set to start after the Durga puja festival in October. However, group vice president R.K. Chakraborty said the expansion work would be severely hit if the disturbances did not stop.