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Rediff.com  » Business » Steel city fears return of the dreaded 90's

Steel city fears return of the dreaded 90's

November 05, 2007 10:37 IST
The murder of Shree Leathers chairman Ashish Dey on Friday morning has left Jamshedpur nervous, with a sense of helplessness.

The reign of terror unleashed by gang lords and lawlessness has led industry to fear the revival of the dreaded decade of the 1990s when 29 murders were reported in a span of 31 days.

"It seems we are going back to the early 1990s again," said R N Gupta, president, Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industries. "The state government simply does not know how to handle it, even if it wants to,'' said Sanjeev Paul, president of the CII Jharkhand chapter and an old Tata hand.

Local industry bodies - the district level Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Adityapur Small Industrial Area Association (ASIAA), regional chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry - have called for Centre's intervention to secure lives and property in this thriving and only industrial cluster in Jharkhand.

In the last few months, four cases of abduction and three murders have been reported, besides numerous threat calls demanding ransom. Many businessmen have complied out of fear, and because they have little hope of protection from the state police force.

Businessmen here feel the law and order situation is affecting business environment in the state. "There is a growing apprehension among industry leaders that things would not improve, and so people are not expanding their businesses any more. Some are even thinking of closing down, or selling out," added Gupta.

In the last two years, promoters of about a dozen industry units have either left or sold out, said SN Thakur, president of AISAA. "There are some 800 SMEs in the area and most of them are apprehensive about their future in the state," he said. A large number of businessmen have appealed to the state government to issue licences for revolvers and other firearms for themselves and their staff as they want to provide private security force for their family members.

Businessmen feel that some ministers of the state and Bihar are giving shelter to local goons, who are the key suspects in the recent extortion and murder cases, including Dey's murder.

Meanwhile, local life, particularly trade on the high street of Sakchi, was hit by the bandh called in to protest Dey's death. Dey was shot at Sakchi on Friday morning near his residence as he rode a bike to attend a meeting.

"Though banks are open, it is hard to find customers as people are afraid to come to the bank. The law and order situation has worsened in recent times," said S Narayan, AGM at the State Bank of India in Jamshedpur.

Niladri Bhattacharya in Jamshedpur
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