Around 100 people including workers of the Simulbarie tea estate and Malibhita locals have gone on hunger strike in Siliguri, demanding that they be allowed to continue farming on 30 vacant acres in the plantation where the management suspended work on January 31.
“The management had announced suspension of work in the garden from January 31, saying workers were obstructing the planting of tea saplings on the vacant land. The workers used to undertake cultivation in this land and hence allegedly obstructed the planting of saplings,” said an official.
Protesters claim that the garden management isn’t allowing them to carry on “farming on their own land”. “The garden management is not allowing around 300 families, including some workers’ families at Malibhita, which is located on the fringes of the tea estate, to carry out farming on their land. They have been using the land for farming for several years and suddenly, the management is claiming that the stretch was a part of the leasehold area of the garden,” said Tshering Dahal, chief coordinator of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s (GJM) Terai unit.
The relay fast is being conducted under the banner of the Bhumi Sudhar Committee, which agitators claimed was an apolitical organisation. Simulbarie is around 15 km from Siliguri and close to Sukna. Dahal said the GJM was extending support to the fast at the request of agitators.