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INTTUC Panighata tea estate unit to boycott Assembly elections

closed Panighata tea estate
The INTTUC unit of the closed Panighata tea estate has decided to boycott the Assembly elections to protest against the alleged apathy of the state government in reopening the garden.
Panighata is in Kurseong Assembly constituency.
Sharan Ghatani, the unit secretary of the Trinamul-affiliated trade union, said the decision to stay away from the polls had been taken at a meeting held in the garden yesterday evening.
"The tea garden has been shut for about five months. Only a few dialogues have taken place in the joint labour commissioner's office in Siliguri to discuss the reopening of the estate. We have highlighted our plight and demanded that the state take necessary measures so that the garden can re-start operating," Ghatani said.
"But we have not seen any positive effort from the state government that would indicate the garden will reopen immediately. We held a meeting yesterday where we decided to boycott the polls," he added.
The management of Panighata estate, in Mirik block of Kurseong subdivision, had announced suspension of work on October 10, 2015, alleging lawlessness among workers.
The labourers and the garden owner had disagreed over Puja bonus. The estate with around 1,500 casual and permanent labourers is 40km from here.
"The block administration had distributed relief material among workers in January. After that, nothing has been done for them. A Mirik-based NGO is organising health check up camps twice a week, which is the only way our labourers are getting treatment," worker Kishor Pradhan said.
Rajen Mukhia, the president of Trinamul's Darjeeling hill unit, expressed helplessness. "I know they are frustrated as the garden has not been functioning for around five months. I have requested them to stay away from taking such a decision to boycott the polls. I will talk to them again and try to convince them to withdraw the decision," he said.
In the last election, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had won the Kurseong seat.
Harihar Acharya, a central committee member of the Morcha-backed Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, who is also the convener of its Dooars-Terai unit, said: "We know the state has failed to take any step to reopen the garden. But that does not mean we have to boycott election and deprive our workers of their constitutional right. Majority of the workers are with our union and they will take part in the poll. If a handful of supporters from the INTTUC boycott election, we have nothing to do with it."
Parishad support
The state committee of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad decided on Sunday to support all Trinamul candidates across the Terai and the Dooars in the Assembly polls.
President of the Parishad state committee, Birsa Tirkey, told reporters: "The government has formed a task force under the north Bengal development department for adivasis and work ... has already started. A separate tribal development department has also been started with the chief minister as its in charge. So, we have decided to support all Trinamul candidates in the Terai and Dooars. Whether we will field Independents will be decided tomorrow."(TT)

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