Siliguri, Aug. 17: Intuc and Congress leaders working in the tea belts of north Bengal today termed the chief minister’s announcement of providing houses to tea workers a gimmick and said it was made only to secure votes in the coming panchayat polls.
Representatives of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad have also expressed reservations and have made it clear that the issue cannot be resolved unless workers are given land rights.
Yesterday, during a media briefing at Writers’ Buildings, Mamata had said the state government planned to build houses for garden workers through state and central schemes such as the Indira Awas Yojana, Gitanjali and Amar Bari.
The 100 days’ work scheme would be implemented in the gardens for benefit of the workforce who in due course, will also get electricity at lower cost, she said.
“We perceive it as an announcement made ahead of the panchayat polls as the Trinamul, which lacks a base in tea belt, is desperate to garner support and win seats in the panchayats,” said Prabhat Mukherjee, a senior Intuc leader of Jalpaiguri.
“If the government is genuinely interested in addressing the issue, it should have simultaneously announced that the workers would be given land rights because even if the government goes ahead and builds homes, the workers would have no rights to them.”
Tea workers, numbering over three lakhs, have repeatedly raised the issue of land rights in the gardens.
As garden land is provided on lease to planters and tea companies and workers reside on a portion of it, they do not enjoy any land rights.
“The issue can be addressed only by amendment of the Plantation Labour Act or by resuming the unused land which can then be distributed to workers with secured land tenures or documents providing land rights. The erstwhile Left Front government and present government have received several memoranda from us and other forums, but till date nothing has been done,” the Intuc leader said.
“By making an announcement, without giving the relevant details, the problem cannot be resolved.”
Rajesh Lakra, general secretary of the Dooars Terai unit of the Parishad, said: “We would have appreciated if the chief minister would have announced that land rights would be given to us. Instead, she announced houses for us. Such announcements only add to the general confusion as we are aware that even if houses are built on the land provided on lease to tea companies, we can never get land rights.”
Ex-judge gets threat calls after flaying Mamata on TV
Kolkata, August 18, 2012It is by now a familiar script — you criticise Mamata Banerjee only to elicit a harsh reaction. If Samaresh Banerjee thought he was immune to the rule by dint of being a former judge of Calcutta HC and ex-Lokayukta, he was wrong.
The former judge and his wife were allegedly threatened and abused over phone on Wednesday and Thursday by anonymous callers posing as journalists, police said on Friday. “The person threatened that I will be falsely implicated in a rape case,” said the ex-judge.
His fault? He criticised the West Bengal CM for her “corruption in judiciary” remark, during a TV interview.
On Tuesday, she had said, “…Why should judgments today be delivered for money? Why?”
Her remark came a day after the state human rights commission asked her government to pay R50,000 each to Jadavpur university professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta, who were arrested for circulating a Banerjee cartoon after the sacking of then rail minister Dinesh Trivedi.
While the phone calls fed another controversy, the state government suffered a setback when the West Bengal Human Rights Commission started probe into the alleged rights violation of Shiladitya Choudhury.
The Midnapore farmer dared tell the CM at an August 8 rally: “You are making false promises and the promises won’t be fulfilled”. Choudhury was charged with breaching Z-plus security zone and attacking police. He is currently lodged at the Jhargram correctional home.
“A petition was filed by BJP members against the injustice meted out to Choudhury. We have taken suo motu cognisance of the matter and initiated a probe,” said Sujoy Haldar, joint secretary of state rights panel.
Bengal ex-Lokayukta gets threat calls for criticising Mamata
IANS, Aug 17, 2012, Kolkata: After he criticised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her "corruption in judiciary" remarks, retired Calcutta High Court judge and former Lokayukta Samaresh Banerjee has complained about receiving anonymous threat calls, police said Friday.
Bidhannagar police commissioner Rajeev Kumar said that Banerjee had filed two complaints Thursday night stating that he received two anonymous threat calls.
"Our investigation showed that the first call was made from a mobile procured in the name of woman but being used by some other person. We are trying to locate him."
"I have no doubt that the calls were made after my remarks directed at (chief minister) Banerjee," the retired judge said.
Banerjee said he received the anonymous calls late Wednesday and Thursday evening. One of the callers claimed he was a journalist with an English daily and threatened him for his comments.
The calls were made hours after he participated in a panel discussion on a television channel and made critical remarks against the chief minister for her comments that she made at the state assembly Tuesday.
Following the threats, the former Lokayukta filed a written complaint with the Bidhannagar Police station and also made available to the police the telephone number from which the calls were made.
He demanded arrests of the culprits and also expressed concern over the whole issue.
Banerjee, who retired as the state's first Lokayukta in February 2009, said that if people lose faith in the judiciary, there will be no democracy.