No Land for Tea Workers

No land for tea garden, cinchona garden workers, but there seems to be plenty of land with the WB Govt to hand out to “refugees” in South Bengal.

The TMC Govt has posted this advertisement in Himalaya Darpan, published today. Apparently, the WB Govt is handing over Parja Patta to around 200 refugee families from different blocks of Nadia district like Chakdah, Karimpur, Nabadwip, Krishnanagar, Ranaghat, places most of us in the hills may never even have heard of. According to a report in Hindustan Times (Bengali edition) in the past 10-years WB Govt has handed over close to Parja Patta to 37000 families.

In contrast, when a local politician asked WB Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to consider Parja Patta rights for the tea garden and cinchona garden workers at an administrative review meeting held in Kurseong broadcast live on social media, she chided him and said, “तुमको जमीन देगा तो हम बिजनेस कैसे करेगा? – if we give them land, how will we do business”?

Imagine the audacity to say deny land rights to the families of tea workers and cinchona workers who have toiled their ancestral lands for generations. While at the same, handing over land rights to the “refugees”. I am all for social justice and I am supportive of providing dignified living to the refugees and assisting them in restarting their lives, but this is the highest level of hypocrisy. What makes the “refugees” more eligible for land rights, than the Gorkhas, Adivasis, Rajbangshis, Bengalis, Koche, Mecha, Rabha, Toto, Hindi Bhasis and others who have worked in the tea gardens for generations? It is beyond my comprehension, as to what makes the “refugees” more special than the tea garden and cinchona garden workers, that the “refugees” are deserving of more support from the West Bengal government, than our own citizens who have been kept deprived of their basic rights for generations?

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I cannot help but wonder, why would the WB Govt post a quarter page ad on the front page of a leading Nepali language daily, about Parja Patta rights being given to “refugees” in Nadia district, while denying the same rights to the people from Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars?

It’s because TMC knows that they will get away with murder, literally, as long as it happens in the North. They will continue to deny us our rights, for as long as we remain divided. They will keep the South appeased, as there are more MP and MLA seats in the south. They will to keep the indigenous communities of the North deprived, because they can afford to do so.

But, can we, the people from the North, afford to keep on appeasing a government that discriminates our region and people deliberately?

It is time, all the people from Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars, irrespective of their political affiliations thought about this.

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