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RSP takes out rally for shut tea estates

Alipurduar, Nov. 29: The RSP today took out a 14km-long procession from Birpara to Madarihat to highlight the problems faced by workers of three closed gardens in the Dooars at a time the party was being accused of doing little for the suffering lot.

The RSP supporters submitted a memorandum to the Madarihat block development officer, demanding that the government take over Dheklapara garden that had been closed for 10 years. They also sought speedy measures for the reopening of other two estates, Bandapani and Dalmore, which had been shut for a few months.

Sources in the RSP said around 300 people had participated in the rally and half of them were garden workers.

Alipurduar MP Manohar Tirkey and Madarihat-Birpara MLA Kumari Kujur took part in the rally, along with Sunil Banik, the secretary of the Jalpaiguri district committee of the RSP and the sabhapati of the Madarihat-Birpara panchayat samity, Bikash Das. The rally began at noon and ended at 2pm.

“I cannot give cash to the garden workers from my MP Local Area Development funds. But we can execute any project for them and I have asked the panchayat samity to set up a number of deep tube wells in the three closed gardens. If they need anything more, we will provide that also,” said Tirkey.

Bikash Das said there were 14 closed gardens during the Left rule. “It was a huge task for the government to acquire these gardens. Now, Dheklapara is the only closed garden in the Dooars. The Left government had tried to open the closed gardens but the owners didn’t co-operate,” he said.

The Congress called the rally an “eyewash” and said it was an attempt by the RSP to consolidate its base ahead of the panchayat polls.

“The rally is ridiculous because Dheklapara has been closed for the past 10 years and the Left was in power most of that period. The rally is simply an eyewash and the RSP is trying to cement its support base keeping in mind the rural elections,” said a Congress leader from Birpara, Manna Jain.

Sina Oraon, a girl in the Nepania division of Dheklapara, said: “Where were these leaders all these years? Suddenly, some RSP youths are coming to the garden to put up posters. In the last 10 years, we have never seen any MP or MLA spending even a rupee for us.”

The Madarihadt BDO, Pemba Sherpa, said, the memorandum would be forwarded to the higher authorities.