Political goons attack tea woman

Jaigaon: Five persons were injured in the second round of attack on women workers at Bharnobari Tea Estate on Friday.

Kamala Bhagwar, 24, has been admitted to the Jalpaiguri district hospital, 100 km from the closed garden, with head and chest injuries.

The victims said goons owing allegiance to the CPM and the RSP — Thule Rai, Rakesh Chhetri and Polikar Chela are some of the names that figure in the FIR filed on Friday — assaulted them while they were returning to the labour colony after a protest rally.

The protest was against alleged police inaction in arresting culprits who had attacked them and members of Cini, an NGO, on May 3.

The attackers reportedly owed allegiance to Suresh and Naresh Agarwal, the financiers who had proposed to run the garden paying a daily wage of Rs 45. The women workers had rejected the offer since the operations and maintenance committee (OMC), which is running the estate now and already paying them Rs 50 per day.

The current convener of the OMC, Madan Sarki, a Citu member, claimed that he was receiving threats from workers, who have sided with the vested interests.

Additional superintendent of police K.B. Dorji said five persons had been arrested on the basis of the first FIR. But they have been let out on bail, a source said.

“If men who mercilessly beat up women go scot-free, we will get together and give them a proper hiding,” said Krishna Baraik, a worker and the vice-president of Jalpaiguri-Hashimara Adivasi Mahila Sudhar Samiti, an apolitical organisation.

Lalita Toppo, another worker, said: “A number of ministers and MLAs are attending Citu and RSP conventions nearby. They are busy discussing the fate of closed gardens, but don’t have time to find out why we were attacked by their supporters twice last week.”

Joseph Kujur, the zonal secretary of the Cha Bagan Mazdoor Union, a Citu affiliate, was adamant in his stand. “Those who are opposed to the financiers running the garden should either take charge of the estate themselves or leave it to us to get the financiers,” Kujur said.

Source: The Telegraph