Liberation seeks allies for tea break

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By ANUPAM DASGUPTA in Siliguri
  • Published 18.02.03
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Siliguri, Feb. 18: After supporting a bandh that failed to touch the tea gardens, whose very cause it was espousing, the CPI-ML (Liberation) is thinking of rallying the Left unions to pressurise the state government into resolving the tea industry stalemate.

The party will soon be sending feelers to the trade union leaders, said sources.

“We have had talks with the RSP-backed UTUC and the All West Bengal Tea Garden Labour Union led by Kanu Sanyal. Even the Citu is welcome to join us. A consolidation of the Left trade unions is needed to strengthen the movement against an uncaring state government,” said Kartik Pal, state secretary of Liberation.

Speaking to reporters, Pal said the tea industry could suffer the same fate as the jute industry. He warned that unless the state government initiated immediate steps to deal with the disputes, the situation could spin out of control.

Citing statistics, the veteran Naxal leader said 30 out of the 59 jute units had closed down. The tea industry was going the same way with 22 gardens already downing shutters, he said.

“The 85,000-strong workforce, deprived of wages, rations and provident fund dues, is struggling to make ends meet. Unless the problem is tackled immediately, the crisis could degenerate into a law and order problem,” said Pal.

Also present at the meet were Avijit Majumdar, Darjeeling district Liberation secretary, and other leaders of the outfit.

Majumdar slammed the state government’s intention to introduce “promoter raj” in the subdivision.

“Over the past few years, Siliguri has witnessed haphazard and unplanned development with a particular promoter bagging almost all major contracts,” a senior party leader alleged.

“We will be launching Ganajagaran Yatras in all districts of north Bengal this month, to highlight the plight of the tea garden labourers and the failure of the government to break the logjam. The first rally was kicked off from Bhetaguri in Cooch Behar on February 15,” he added.

The Naxalite outfit demanded that the government release all dues of the labourers and chalk out rehabilitation packages for the affected workforce.

Pal, however, reminded that the focus of the agitation would be Chandmoni, which he described as the “biggest blot on the government’s performance card.”