Rally for peace in hills and plains

Siliguri, Nov. 7: Thousands of tea garden workers turned up at a rally organised by the Intuc to showcase hills-plains unity in the context of the ongoing agitation for a separate state.

The rally that started from Sukna railway station, 7km from here, around 12.30pm, saw the participation of labourers from different tea plantations in the Terai, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Panighata. Before the workers started marching, a small cultural programme was held in front of the station where members of the Bharatiya Gorkha Bhutpurba Sainik Morcha, the ex-servicemen wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, were present.

“Such an initiative is always welcome as it will help maintain peace and harmony in the region. We are happy to be part of this kind of programmes,” said Surendra Pradhan, the Siliguri zonal secretary of the Sainik Morcha.

The rally by the labour wing of the Congress ended at Siliguri Court complex at 3.30pm, after covering a distance of about 10km.

Aloke Chakraborty, the district president of the Intuc, slammed the Bengal government for the present turmoil in the region.

“Because of the wrong policy of the state government, the hills and plains are witnessing movements and counter-movements, vitiating the atmosphere. We apprehend that such agitations will not only hamper the unity of the region but also affect the tea sector which provides jobs to people of different communities,” he said.

Chakraborty said the rally had been organised in a bid to maintain the peace that had been restored after the recent visit of the governor, Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

The Intuc leader, along with other leaders, later submitted a memorandum, addressed to the governor, to Siliguri additional district magistrate. They have sought Gandhi’s intervention to find a permanent solution to the problems plaguing the region.

Many Congress leaders, including the district president, Shankar Malakar, were conspicuous by their absence from the rally. “It was not necessary for me and other district leaders to attend a march organised by the party’s labour wing,” said Malakar.