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Lockout notice issued in garden

Alipurduar, May 25: The management of Rahimabad Tea Estate issued a lockout notice today and left the garden after the manager was allegedly chased by garden workers with bows and arrows and had he a narrow escape.

The garden has around 1100 workers and is 42km from here. According to a source, yesterday was the wage day in the garden and all the workers had gathered to collect their pay. A section of workers led by trade union leaders had gone to the manager to enquire why the tractors in the garden had been shifted and when the huts of the labourers which were damaged in a storm, would be repaired. An altercation then ensued between the labourers and the manager. After this, the management left the garden. They filed an FIR at Samuktala police station after issuing a lockout notice today.

Bharat Sharma, the manager of Rahimabad Tea Estate, said: “There is no law and order in the garden. The trade union leaders and non-workers would often interfere in the daily functioning of the garden. They would also interfere in hospital matters and demand that I work according to their instructions.”

“Yesterday, I had to take shelter in a toilet as the labourers had come to kill me with arms. I had a narrow escape. I ran away from the toilet and left the garden. I was gheraoed last evening from 5pm to 10pm. The mob also broke my table and no wage was given to the workers. We are now scared and have left the garden for our safety,” he said.

Selestan Tete, the garden unit secretary of PTWU, has denied the allegations.

“We just had an argument with the manager. The workers went to the manager to find out why the garden tractors had been shifted to Turturi Tea Estate and when the huts of the workers would be repaired. Rations for the past 24 fortnights are pending and workers who have retired are yet to get their gratuity and PF.”

“There is also a problem of drinking water in the garden. The manager has been in the garden for the last three months but there has been no development there,” he said.