Ruma in her office on Monday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury
Alipurduar, Sept. 9: A letter from chief minister Mamata Banerjee has changed the life of a 33-year-old woman from Jateshwar.
Ruma Dutta who worked as a domestic help till yesterday, today took charge as a supervisor of a project under the West Bengal Comprehensive Area Development Corporation after a “special order” was issued from the chief minister’s office.
She will get Rs 4,500 a month.
In 1997, Ruma passed Madhyamik exam and in 2000, she was married off to a vegetable seller in Mainaguri. But after a year, Ruma’s husband and in laws allegedly started torturing her and she had to leave their house in 2003. Ruma returned to her mother’s house near Falakata, 47km from here, leaving her son who was three-months-old at that time. The only source of income for the two women was Ruma’s mother’s old age pension of Rs 400 a month and soon Ruma started working in her neighbours’ houses as a domestic help.
On July 23, when Mamata Banerjee was campaigning for the rural elections on the Jateshwar High School grounds, Ruma was in the audience. She had a letter addressed to the chief minister where she wrote her story and requested Mamata to help her get a job. Ruma had thought she would give the letter to Mamata but because of the security arrangements, she could not go near the chief minister.
When Mamata was leaving the venue, Ruma handed over the envelope with the words “Didi apni to byasto manush samoy pele pore dekhben ektu (Didi you are very busy if you get time read it once), to one of the guards.
A couple of weeks back, an official from the chief minister’s office contacted Ruma and asked her to send some documents.
Yesterday, Ruma received an appointment letter asking her to join as “a supervisor for the execution of different schemes for livelihood development of 11 numbers of sick/closed tea gardens of Jalpaiguri district under the backward village development programme…” under the panchayat and rural development department.
“I cannot believe that the chief minister gave so much importance to a poor woman from a village. It is like a dream. I will try my best to perform well. I have to compile the requirements of garden workers,” Ruma said. The letter states that Ruma will get reimbursement for her travel fares. “I don’t know how to thank the chief minister”.
Prantosh Roy, the head clerk of the Jateshwar office, said: “She joined today on a six-month-contract. She will receive Rs 4,500 a month. Our government has taken an initiative to improve the livelihood of people in 11 (sick/closed) gardens in Jalpaiguri. Now we are working in nine gardens and she will work as a supervisor in all nine. It is a special order.”
According to government norms, appointments to junior posts are made on a contractual basis for a specific term and candidates are absorbed after that.