A general strike called by the Tea Garden Labourers Joint Forum in some blocks and four districts of north Bengal on Tuesday evoked mixed response. The impact of the strike was felt in Alipurduar, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri as well as parts of Coochbehar, Mathabhanga, Mekhliganj and Islampur block of North Dinajpur.
Normal life, however, remained unaffected in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri towns. Altogether 215 persons were detained by the police at Hasimara, the police said.
The effect of the shutdown was also felt in Birpara, Mal, Nagrakata, Banarhat, Naxalbari, Kumargram, Kalchini and Madarihat with most of the shops closed, private vehicles off the roads and offices witnessing thin attendance.
The joint forum comprising 27 organisations including CPI(M), Congress and BJP, had called a two-day tea garden strike since Monday demanding Minimum Wages Act and benefits as per the Food Securities Act. The forum has called a general strike on Tuesday to press their demands.
Gorkha Janmukti Morch has also extended support to the strike. Zia-ul-Alam, secretary of the joint forum, claimed that almost 300 tea gardens of Terai and Dooars were closed. The strike was also observed in 45 tea gardens of Darjeeling, he said. Demonstrations and protests were held in front of the tea gardens.
Protesting tea garden labourers had blocked NH 31 for some time at Dhupguri. CITU leader Ajay Mahali claimed that Trinamool Congress supporters were forcing tea garden labourers to work in the tea gardens at Banarhat.