ATTN DELHI -Protest Demonstration against Killing of Gangaram Koal, Tea Community Workers’ Leader in Assam by Congress Goons


JOIN PROTEST AGAINST

HEINOUS MURDER OF CPI(ML)’S TEA WORKERS’ LEADER GANGARAM KOAL

BY CONGRESS-BACKED GOONS AND TEA-GARDEN MAFIA

12 APRIL (FRIDAY)

11 AM, JANTAR MANTAR

AICCTU 

 

On 25 March, Comrade Gangaram Koal was hacked to death.

Congress-backed goons and the local Congress MLA have been named in the FIR – but are yet to be arrested. On 12 April, protests will be held in Assam as well as nationally, demanding immediate arrest of the accused. Do join the protest in Delhi, after which a memorandum will be submitted via the Resident Commissioner at Assam Bhawan to the Assam Governor.

Contact nos: 9968125770, 7838497013, 9560756628

 

On the night of 25th March, Comrade Gangaram Koal, General Secretary of Asom Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangh and member of Assam State Committee of CPI(ML), was brutally assassinated near his home at the Gutibari tea garden in Tinsukia districtComrade Gangaram was a militant and popular leader of the tea community in the Dibrugarh-Tinsukia region, and he had been at the forefront of protests against large-scale corruption in gram panchayat schemes and in the public distribution system.Undoubtedly, he was killed at the behest of the corrupt nexus of panchayat representatives, government officials, and politicians, in particular the Congress MLA from Chabua Raju Sahu whose interests were threatened by his relentless activism.   

Comrade Gangaram Koal’s home adjoins a tea estate in Gutibari in Tinsukia district. He had been returning home at around 8 pm on is motorbike when he was attacked by assailants with an iron rod and hacked to death with machetes. His body was discovered by a tea garden worker soon after.

Comrade Gangaram Koal had led a successful struggle last year to get the licence of a corrupt ration agent cancelled. The raton agent, known to be close to the MLA Raju Sahu, ran a ‘fair price’ shop in which 60% of the consumers proved to be bogus, and the remaining 40% genuine consumers had not got even a fraction of their due rations. Only recently, leaders of the ACMS (the tea garden union affiliated with INTUC) were heard publicly declaring that Comrade Gangaram, who challenged their role as agents of the Congress and the tea industry, should be killed.

The ACMS acts to keep the tea garden workers as a captive vote-bank, and any emerging popular and independent leader from this community is ruthlessly eliminated or terrorized by the tea garden mafia. In 2000, Daniel Topno, a popular student leader from the tea community who contested as an independent MLA candidate and got substantial votes, was killed. In Sonitpur, Lakhikant Kurmi and Narayan Pondel, tea garden activists, survived a life-threatening assault. Not long ago, a close comrade of Gangaram Koal, CPI(ML) activist Shubhrajyoti Bardhan, was attacked twice – once at the Deputy Commissioner’s office where he had gone to raise question of irregularities in PDS, and once more in a village.     

Comrade Gangaram had been the CPI(ML)’s candidate in the Lok Sabha polls from Dibrugarh in 2009, and had twice been CPI(ML)’s MLA candidate from Chabua in 2006 and 2011. His heinous political assassination has sparked off a massive state-wide protest in Assam. It should be noted that CPI(ML) activists have been assaulted just a few months back by goons when they went to the food and civil supplies department to register a complaint against irregularities in the PDS.

The Tarun Gogoi Government of Assam initially ordered a CID enquiry and was adamant against ordering a CBI enquiry as demanded by the powerful mass movement that emerged to demand justice for Gangaram Koal. On March 29th, Assam observed a successful 12-hour Bandh at the call of the CPI(ML), demanding a CBI enquiry into the assassination. Subsequently, the Government has had to concede the demand for a CBI enquiry. However, it is important for the CBI enquiry to be time-bound. Justice delayed is often justice denied, and we can recall that the CBI enquiry into Daniel Topno’s murder is yet to submit its report even after 13 years.

Assassination has been a notorious stock-in-trade for the mafia of industrialists and politicians threatened by trade union movements. Trade Union leaders such as Shankar Guha Niyogi and Darasram Sahu in Chhattisgarh, Datta Samant in Mumbai, Gurudas Chatterjee and Jagdev Sharma in Jharkhand are some of the popular workers’ leaders who were martyred at the behest of the powerful vested interests. Comrade Gangaram’s courageous struggle will be continued by his comrades – because murder never can and never will silence workers’ struggles for their rights and their dreams of an egalitarian world.    

#India– Tea Gardens death and disease


Dhiren Malpaharia had a burn injury from before Durga Puja. The skin was gangrenous- so Pradipan (pradipan.slg@gmail.com) took him with Janaki Malpaharia to NBMCH for treatment. After the gangrenous skin was excised in early November he came back to the closed Dheklapara Tea Estate. The Rs 35 a day his relations earned was not enough. He was given Burnol for the ulcer. He died on the night of 4th December at Birpara State General Hospital. He deserved Universal Health Care. He deserved 100 days work at minimum wages. He deserved to be protected from his unjust employer by the courts and the administration. Mal Paharias are a sub group of the Paharia Community- only 100,0000 of whom survive in “Santal” Parganas. Some 25 Paharia families live among the 350 tea labourer housesn Dheklapara (Main Division)- a tea estate closed for 11 years. Another 250 tea labourer families live at Niparnia Division of the same TE. The neighbouring Bandapani TE is also closed

Dheklapara (Madarihat-Birpara, Jalpaiguri)
Visit 25th November 2012- They survive on Rs 35 a day!

Siliguri Welfare Organization and Peoples Health Forum organized a camp at Dheklapara Tea Estate Main Division from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 25th November. Uttar Banga Sambad and another organization had arranged for around 350 blankets and mosquito nets for the labourers. The Tea Workers Cooperative helped and a UTUC representative attended. There were around 25 volunteers from SWO and 4 doctors. We passed Sulkapara, Binnaguri and Ethelbari on our way (since we traveled via Sevoke and
Odlabari). Dheklapara is 9 km from Birpara. Niparnia is 3 km away from the Main Division.

Dr Debashis Mukherjee, Dr Prakash Baag and Dr Anita Mazumdar saw around 250 patients. Weight, height, age and names of all patients were recorded and BMI of all adults will be calculated. 4 health volunteers- one girl from Niparnia Division, Kunu Malpaharia, Rajib Malpaharia
and one other male volunteer from the Main Division- were identified. If
trained and supplied an infant weight machine they could (with the help of
Salter scales from the Anganwadis) take the weights of all children. There are an estimated 250 under 5 children in Niparnia and estimated 350 in the Main Division. The ANM attends the Dheklapara Dispensary on Fridays, Record keeping is excellent. Immunization is given, BP of pregnant women is taken.

This Tea Garden is in Bandapani Gram Panchayat (GP).
Recently the Bandapani Tea Estate also closed down. Earlier many worked in the Stone “jhalna”- sorting and loading at Rati River.
They earned Rs 250 or more there. The Cooperative gives them Rs 35 a day for Tea Plucking. Joy Birpara Tea Estate is functioning. The Health sub Centre is at Joy Birpara. Dim Dima Tea Estate has a CNI Primary School and Fatima High School run by catholics.

There are 25 Malpaharia families here.
There are also Malpaharias at Chunabati, Raipur,
Rayabari, Kathalguri, Totabari (near Banarhat)

Janaki Malpaharia is wife of Kunu. Her maiden name was Kahar.  She has an 11 year old daughter. She had 2 miscarriages. Most recent delivery was a girl 2 months ago who died and was not breastfed. Since then she can not walk and has “some irregularity in her periods”. After the MRI at AMRI (PPP connected to NBMCH) she was found to have narrowed spinal spaces. She has recovered to the point of sitting up. The treatment with Phenytoin has helped her. Apparently she has epilepsy. No CT scan done to look for tuberculoma or cysticercosis. Her Hemoglobin is 6.9 gm% and Total Count WBC is 3800/cu mm. No enlargement of spleen however. She has cough for one month. We advised Sputum for AFB. Maybe Gp Rh and VDRL need to be done later. She was given a mouth wash for halitosis.  She had urinary tract
infection as well.

Dhiren Malpaharia is 60 years old. He
fell and burnt himself before Durga Puja (October). There was near gangrene- his dead skin was removed at NBMCH. The large ulcer covers half his forearm and most of the upper arm. His elbow is stiff in a flexed position. The raw area is red and clean- but the piece of shirt covering it has marks and may not be clean. Advised silver sulphadiazine in preference to Burnol. Also clean gauze or other light cotton cloth to be changed every day.

Rajib Malpaharia who cycles to school at Birpara is in class 11. He had phimosis and was also operated at NBMCH.

We met the father of Jarain Nayek 23/F, unmarried, who died after 3 days of fever. They are originally from around Mayurbhanj/ Jamshedpur.

We visited the home of Urvashi Bedia daughter of Pradeep. She is 12 years old. They are originally from near Hazaribagh. About 4 months ago she stopped walking. This continued for 2 months. Now she can walk again. She is quite thin. She studies in class 6. She had pus discharge from her ears (CSOM). Her eyesight was also affected. Now she has swelling of the right knee for a week.

On the way back we stopped for lunch at Sangam Line Hotel. They have a stone sorter machine.

The Dheklapara Tea garden is closed for 11 years. There are around 700 families living here.

An old lady and her grand child live alone

Indo Tanti had Hemoglobin of 5 gm %.
She had her ECG taken. Death Certificate says Congestive Cardiac Failure. No X-Ray. Possibility of TB does not seem to be ruled out.

There has been Dengue recently in the area. There has also been proven Chikungunya.

Malaria is rampant.

Stone related work could lead to Silicosis in future- urgent need for Spirometry and follow up. At least 5 patients were referred for Sputum AFB.

Niparnia has a problem of elephants attacking houses

Debijhora Tea Estate (Chopra, U Dinajpur)
Visit 19th November
Break in Tea Gardens here is between 11.30 am and 1.30 pm. BMOH, second ANM Augustina Kullu and ASHA Sugandhi Baraik took me to meet 6 year old Prima Beck of Bohura Line who has Kala Azar on 20th November. Another family with a treated KA patient has relations in Manjha/ Betbari in Naxalbari Block (where PHN Krishnamoyee Bala is now posted). We heard that the first case was diagnosed by doctors in Kishanganj. There were 72 Oraon tribal patients (largest group in Bohura Line) last year out of 106 in Chopra. There were 74 more cases in the other 8 blocks of U Dinajpur. Bohura Line is on the border with Bangladesh and frequent cattle thefts occur. Only one family- from Azamgarh (near Gorakhpur) and Jaunpur (husband and wife) – still have cattle. Some people are working in Kakarvitta in Nepal and many in other areas (Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi) especially in plywood factories. There were a lot of pigs- but this has been done away with following
pressure from health workers. In another KA patient’s home we found a dehydrated old gentleman with one day history of diarrhea. We suggested he go to the Tea Estate dispensary for re-hydration. This family brews alcohol using gur [molasses]. Yesterday I read that there is cholera in one tea garden [probably in Jalpaiguri]

On the 16th October members of SWO, Forum for Peoples Health, APDR and Binayak from PUCL went to Gulma Tea Estate. Here 160 acres of common land- used for subsistence farming in the past- had been fenced off by the Tea Estate. They claimed that this land had been rented to them 30 years ago- though they had not used it in this period. Now they plan to turn it into real estate- possibly taking advantage of the river, rail line, and view of the mountains to build a tourist site or upper class residential colony (like Ambuja). They were harassing workers who opposed this land grab. We spoke to a worker Mr Samad and his wife (a nurse) who was cooperating with NAPM.

 

by- prabir chattreji

 

Two more deaths again in Assam tea garden


TEA GARDEN MUNNAR

Image via Wikipedia

The Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has learnt about two more deaths in the Bhuvan valley tea garden of Cachar district in Assam. According to information, a 7 days old baby and about 70 year old Balaram Bauri of North Bank Division of the tea estate died on 6 and 7 March, 2012 respectively. Now the toll stands at 14 according to the confirmed information available with the BHRPC.

This tea garden owned by a Kolkata-based private company was closed from 8 October, 2011 to 8 February, 2012 and the labourers were abandoned by the owners. About 500 permanent labourers and more than this number of casual workers had not been paid their outstanding wages for 9 weeks, bonus for years and other statutory benefits including provident fund dues. There were no facilities of health care, drinking water and sanitation. Government public distribution system and other welfare schemes including Integrated Child Development Schemes were virtually non-functional. These circumstances led the labourers in a condition of starvation and malnutrition resulting in several deaths.

The BHRPC reported (the report at hungeralert1) 10 deaths on 1 February following its fact-finding study and claimed that the underlying and contributory causes of all deaths were starvation, malnutrition and lack of medical care going by the definition of starvation and malnutrition provided in the National Food Security Bill, 2010 drafted by the National Advisory Council and the Starvation Investigation Protocol prepared by the Supreme Court Commissioners on the right to food. The BHRPC again reported (see the report at http://bhrpc.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/situation-of-hunger-deteriorates-in-assam-tea-garden/) serious health condition of 43 other people of the tea estate on 11 February. Two people among them Belbati Bauri and Jugendra Bauri later died on 18 and 22 February respectively. This was also reported (see the report at http://bhrpc.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/hungeralert3/) by the BHRPC on 23 February.

The deceased 7-days-old baby was daughter of Nikhil Bauri and Duhkia Bauri. After re-opening of the garden on 9 February, the garden hospital run under the National Rural Health Mission was revived but no qualified and permanent doctor and nurse have been appointed. There is also no electricity and water available. The Bauris had to go to the Primamry Health Centre at Sonai, a place about 20 km away from the garden, where Dukhia delivered an underweight baby and she fell seriously ill, according the garden sources.

Deceased Balaram Bauri, aged about 70, was a retired permanent worker of the tea estate. He became weaker day by day and his body got swollen. His son Ranjit Bauri is a permanent labourer. Ranjit claims after re-opening of the garden on 9 February he was paid only Rs 60/- and was provided with 2 kgs of rice, 1.2kgs of flour per week at Rs 0.54 per Kg and additional amount at Rs 10/- per Kg. He said that he could feed his family 6 properly during the 4 months of the closure of the garden and even thereafter. According to him, his father died in condition of starvation and for lack of proper medical care.

It is to be noted that the Arunodoy Sanga, a non government organisation based in Silchar, held a health camp in the garden on 4 March. A team of 5 doctors from Civil Hospital, Cachar Cancer Hospital and Kalyani Hospital who reportedly examined around 500 patients of the tea garden corroborated the phenomenon of malnutrition stalking the workers and their families. Doctors recommended for immediate supply of nutritious food and sustained treatment of the labourers. No visible and reasonable steps have been taken by the authorities in this regard.

10 March, 2012, Silchar, Assam

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

wali.laskar@gmail.com

+91 94019 42234

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