A total of 5,500 tea tribe members on Friday took a pledge to never take the law into their own hands in an awareness programme held at Rupai tea estate in Assam’s Tinsukia district.
Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) started this drive backed by the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, Bhartiya Chah Mazdoor Sangha, Navodaya Milan Yuba Sangha, Chah Bagan Mahila Samiti and garden authorities to prevent lynching in the tea gardens of the state.
The gathering included 3,200 permanent, casual and factory workers from all sections of the tea garden and 2,300 non-workers.
Dr Deben Dutta, 73, posted at Teok Tea Estate in Jorhat district, was lynched on September 31 following the death of a worker in the garden.
“Those who took the pledge on Friday also promised to not even provoke anybody to take the law in their hands. We requested them to take patients directly to the hospital and not to any quack or traditional healer. Because in most cases, the patients’ condition deteriorates under these healers and then when the patient is taken to the hospital it is too late to save them. We will conduct such awareness programmes everyday,” ATTSA Doomdooma unit secretary Irot Tanti told The Telegraph.
He said, “There should be respect for doctors. If there will be no doctors it is us who will suffer. Who are we to take law in our hands? It is illegal and a punishable crime. The after-affects of Dr Dutta’s death and heckling of Dr Madhusmita Saikia and assault on Dr Prabin Chandra Thakur can be seen clearly as doctors have resigned from garden hospitals. Nurses, pharmacists and other medical staff are afraid.”
Asked why such programmes were not held before, the tea leaders said, “It is true that we have got diverted from our mission and vision. Had such comprehensive programmes been conducted before, this day could have been averted but better late than never. We must find a better way of dealing with such situations. The state and central governments should work with garden management to root out these problems.”
“The doctors, managers, workers and everyone else from top to bottom are important in a garden. We should sit together and discuss how to solve any problem that arises among us,” worker Shila Bhumij said. “We will have to live together and work together so we should find solutions to any issue in a constitutional way,” Rupai tea estate manager Bhaskar Doley said.
“The working condition of tea gardens has deteriorated in recent times. The government and society will have to ensure doctors’ security,” Thakur said.