Gangsters assault ONGC staffers in Tripura

Vol 4, PW 16 (13 Sep 00) Exploration & Production

Getting shot or kidnapped by rebels while drilling in a remote jungle location is something ONGC engineers or geologists have come to expect while posted in the hostile north east of India.

But now they face physical threats of a different kind, and from an unexpected quarter - gangsters working for contractors determined to secure one of many service contracts ONGC offers in its projects. On August 28th, three senior ONGC officials were beaten up near ONGC's state project headquarters at Badarghat in the heart of Agartala, state capital of Tripura.

The attack happenedat night as the three officials were driving home from work. A source at Badarghat tells Petrowatch that Sukumar Saha, materials manager of the Tripura project, and two members of his department, Mrinal Ghosh and SS Bhattacharya, were returning home outside the ONGC campus in the evening when they were pulled out of their jeep and assaulted.

Ghosh suffered a fractured finger, which is now in plaster. The other two escapedwith minor cuts and bruises and were treated at the ONGC hospital in Badarghat.

The three ONGC staffers have lodged a first information report with local police station at Amtali. Local ONGC sources suspect the attackers work on behalf of a leading service contractor and son of a former Congress Party minister.

"He is upset because we gave tender forms to his rival," reveals one of the assaulted men, "He has established a monopoly over key services like transport and he has began to quote rates which are much higher than acceptable."