The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letter in Hindi blocks compensation

Malda, Sept. 2: The Malda district administration has turned away the father of a contract labourer who died in a Tata Motors plant, saying that they cannot decipher the compensation letter carrying instructions in Hindi.

Manzoor Ali, the victim’s father, has visited the district magistrate’s office at least 20 times in the past two months, his neighbour Anwarul Haq claimed. Sixty-year-old Manzoor recently suffered a nervous breakdown and is under treatment at the district hospital here.

“Every time, the boro babu (head clerk) at the district collectorate shooed us away and told us to get the letter translated into English. First came the shock of losing his son Tahidur Rehman and then this harassment. Manzoor travelled around 35km at least thrice a week in the past two months for the compensation. And then he lost his mind,” alleged Anwarul.

Manzoor, who, lives in Ghaschandpur village, lost his son Tahidur Rehman to a freak accident in the Tata Motors plant in Pant Nagar, Uttarakhand, on July 1. The 20-year-old had been electrocuted.

The company sent the body home a day after the accident. Two days later the compensation — a cheque of Rs 3.77 lakh drawn in favour of Manzoor — arrived at the labour commissioner’s office in Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand. Tata Motors also sent a letter to the family saying the money was on its way.

The Nainital district administration (since the plant is located in this district) contacted its counterparts in Malda and asked them to locate and identify Tahidur’s family and send a report to them by July 30.

Investigations revealed that the district magistrate’s office had filed away the letter without logging its arrival. Sources in the administration said the procedure was to inform the district magistrate about all the letters that are addressed to his office. But before that, the letters must be logged and given a memo number. In Manzoor’s case nothing of that sort happened till Friday.

A district official, however, has backed the stand taken by the boro babu.

“Next time, we too will send an important letter to another state in Bengali. All letters should be written in English and the Uttarakhand government should have known that.” He, however, admitted that the “poor family” should not have been told to get the translation done.

Saira Bibi said she has now replaced her husband Manzoor in doing the running around. “We are at a loss. Tahidur was the only bread earner of the family. My husband had a nervous breakdown. I had gone to meet the district magistrate with my surviving younger son, but I was not given an audience,” said Saira.

District magistrate Chittaranjan Das was shocked when The Telegraph told him about Manzoor’s plight. “I am ashamed. No one told me about the letter. I will ensure that the family gets the compensation as soon as possible,” said Das.

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