Jessop owner Ruia arrested in Delhi, company questions move (Roundup)

Kolkata, Dec 10 (IANS) Kolkata-headquartered Ruia Group Chairman and country’s oldest engineering firm, Jessop and Co’s owner Pawan Ruia was arrested from his New Delhi residence on Saturday by the West Bengal CID personnel in connection with a complaint of theft filed by the Railways.

Ruia has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to cheating, dishonestly inducing delivery of property and criminal breach of trust with regard to missing railway property in the Jessop factory premises in suburban Dum Dum, a CID officer said.

The business group, which also owns ailing tyre makers Dunlop India, however, questioned Ruia’s arrest saying he did not hold any position in Jessop.

He is being brought to Kolkata on transit remand after a team of officials picked him up from his residence at Delhi’s Nizamuddin during the day.

The Deputy Director, Railway, Kolkata, had filed the complaint at the Dum Dum police station after a joint inspection by a team of railway and CID personnel on November 4 purportedly found equipment and rakes valued at Rs 50 crore missing from the Jessop factory premises.

Police have accused Jessop owners of flouting the Calcutta High Court order to repair factory walls, clean bushes and make adequate lighting arrangements to secure the factory premises.

There were also repeated and frequent incidents of fire in the factory premises and the probe was handed over to the CID in October.

The CID had summoned Ruia on four occasions between October 26 and November 5, but he failed to turn up even once.

However, reacting to Ruia’s arrest, the business group questioned how he could be dragged into the case.

“Pawan K Ruia does not hold any position in Jessop & Co Ltd. He is neither a Director, nor a Shareholder of the Company. He is not even an occupier of any of the Jessop premises.

“We fail to understand how he can be dragged into the case. Anyways, we will contest all the charges brought against him in the proper legal forum,” said the Group’s spokesman.

Meanwhile, a section of Jessop factory workers celebrated at the factory gate after Ruia’s arrest.

“Ruia was directly involved in all the major mishaps in the Jessop factory, starting from fire in October to the striping of railway equipment from the factory premises. He should be given strict punishment,” said a factory worker.

In February, ahead of the state assembly polls, the West Bengal government had passed a bill to take over both Dunlop India and the 228-year old Jessop, a maker of wagons, EMU rakes and cranes.

Founded in 1788 as Breen and Company, the firm was re-christened Jessop in 1820, with the central government taking over its management in 1958 and then the company as a whole in 1973.

However, over time, the company turned loss-making. In 2003, the government sold its 72 percent stake to Ruia, who turned it into a profit making business within a short time. But within a few years, the firm again fell into tough times.

Ruia ventured into the tyre industry in 2005 by buying Dunlop India Ltd from Manohar Rajaram Chhabria’s family in late 2005.

Both of Dunlop’s plants at Sahagunj in Hooghly district and Ambattur in Tamil Nadu are shut for quite some time.

The Ruia Group had tried to open both Jessop and Dunlop from time to time, but could not sustain the tempo for long.

Jessop was shut down indefinitely in 2014.

The state’s Mamata Banerjee government and the workers of the two companies have time and again alleged that Ruia had no intention of running the units and his sole aim was to sell of their assets, including the large tract of land.

Ruia, on the other hand, has maintained that he bought the companies to run them and not to strip assets. He has in the past charged a section of the workers and anti-social elements with creating law and order issues in the factories and forcibly taking out valuable machinery and equipment.

Ruia also complained repeatedly about the banks and financial institutions refusing to provide advances, resulting in the dearth of working capital.

The lenders, on their part, have articulated their fears about the deterioration of asset values of the companies as the reason for their reluctance to give any more advances.

–IANS

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