Trinamul leaders in Jalpaiguri have alleged that an illegal racket is fleecing some tea workers of the western Dooars by withdrawing money from their provident fund accounts and showing the beneficiary as dead or retired.
“We have come to know that some workers, employees and sub-staff in some tea estates in the district have been fleeced. An organised racket in this region has somehow withdrawn considerable sums of the provident fund of these people without their knowledge. In many cases, the person from whose account the money has been drawn is being shown as dead or retired,” said Sanjay Kuzur, the Trinamul president of Nagrakata block.
He said that a couple of days back, some workers, employees and sub-staff of Caron, a tea estate located in the block, approached them.
“It was surprising that their PF deposits have been withdrawn. The matter came to the notice of the garden’s management as they checked the PF accounts. They have filed police complaints. We want the police to trace the culprits,” Kuzur added.
Sources said at least 15 persons, including some ex-workers who now work in Kerala and had not withdrawn their PF deposits while leaving Jalpaiguri, were conned.
As the matter has come to light, these workers are facing a different problem, said a trade union leader of the area.
“The official records of the PF authorities show that these workers have either retired or have died, although they are alive or working. Thus, the management of the tea estate concerned can’t make deposits in their names. Not only has their money been withdrawn, but they are also being deprived of fresh deposits as well because of the technical glitch,” he said.
On Thursday, Kuzur, along with some other party leaders, met some tea workers at his office. “PF authorities cannot evade their responsibility. These days, it is not easy to draw money from a PF account. The police should check if anybody in the tea estates is involved. We have no inkling of how much money has been withdrawn in such a manner,” he said.
Trinamul workers in the region have been asked to spread awareness in every tea estate so that workers can check their PF details, he said.
Officials at Nagrakata police station said they were looking into the charge.
“Based on the complaints, we have initiated a probe,” said an officer. “Our team is gathering more information.”