Orange Valley Tea Estate, Darjeeling: Work came to a standstill here this morning over allegations that a worker had committed suicide after being “tormented” by the management.

Angry workers of Orange Valley Tea Estate refused to allow police to lift the body of Sukbir Rai (57), who jumped 300 ft into a jhora, near the garden (located 15 km from Darjeeling), yesterday. They have vowed not to give up the body till members of the garden management came down to the spot and “see (for themselves) the fate of their oppression”. A large police contingent has been posted at the garden.

Workers said Rai, a dafadar (supervisor) in the garden, was publicly humiliated on April 14. “Nipen Sharma, the assistant manager of the garden, insulted him on that day for not doing his work well. Soon after, he was asked to work as a chowkidar and this was too much for him to bear,” said Solomon Subba, a worker.

It is learnt that Rai was mentally disturbed by the incident and took sick leave on April 21. He reportedly went to his relative’s place at Vah-Tukvar (about 20 km from Darjeeling). It was on his way back, yesterday morning, that Rai went missing. His body was traced around 10 am today.

Following this, angry workers laid siege to the garden factory and allegedly manhandled the in-charge R.R. Chowdhury. The manager of the garden Rajesh Kaushal, who was in Darjeeling, however, refused to go down to the site leading to the impasse.

Kaushal has denied all allegations levelled against the management. “The deceased was made a chowkidar at the request of his family members,” said Kaushal. He hinted that the pressure on Rai could have been for other reasons. “He along with a colleague had hauled up six workers for dereliction of duty. They were later suspended,” he added.

The workers, however, claimed only one of them had been suspended on the basis of Rai’s complaint.

Source: The Telegraph