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Jan Andolan Party JAP land rights committee to meet minister Arup Biswas

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The Parza Patta Demand Committee, a frontal organisation of the newly-formed Jan Andolan Party which has started an indefinite dharna, has said it will meet Hills Affairs minister Arup Biswas with the demand for land rights of tea garden and cinchona plantation workers and those residing in forest areas. The committee members today also said they would decide on the future of the ongoing agitation in accordance with the minister’s response, who they will meet on Tuesday in Siliguri.
The PPDC has started an indefinite relay dharna in front of the district administration office from February 17 and a signature campaign among the public. PPDC convener SudeepKarki said, “Nearly 75 per cent of the hill population resides in tea garden and cinchona plantation areas. They have been working since decades, but they still continue to be denied land rights that mean so much to them. This is the reason we are stressing on giving these people their parza-patta.” When reminded that various trade unions of the hills have also taken up the same demand over the years, the PPDC convener said, “Of course, there are many trade unions that have raised this issue. But it must be remembered that these unions have not focused or given top priority to the land right demand. There are other problems in the tea garden and cinchona plantation areas, which is why the trade unions’ focus has been diverted. Our committee, on the other hand, has been formed specifically to take forward the parza-patta issue.”
The PPDC was formed on November 23 last year to demand for the parzapatta and affiliated itself with the JAP when this new political party came into being a couple of months ago. “Our dharna has reached the sixth day today, but we are yet to receive a response from the state government. We want to start a dialogue regarding our demand and a delegation will leave for Siliguri tomorrow to meet the minister. We will see what kind of response we get from him and accordingly, decide whether to intensify our ongoing agitation or not,” said Karki. He also said the number of participants in the ongoing agitation would be increased in the coming days to create pressure on the district administration and the state government.
“Each day, we have about 40-45 participants from different tea gardens. We intend to increase the number to at least 1,000 in the days ahead,” Karki said. Speaking about the signature campaign that started on February 20, he said, “Till now, we have already collected signatures of about 700 people in support of our demand. We have also started the signature campaign in some tea gardens. This will continue till the coming Sunday by when we hope to collect about 12,000 signatures. We will send the signatures to the chief minister to show the popular support for our demand.(EOI)

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