Darjeeling remembers martyrs of 1955 for cause of tea garden workers

Darjeeling remembers martyrs of 1955 for cause of tea garden workers

Memorial built at Control Dara, Margaret's Hope tea garden in the memory of six workers who were shot and murdered (Photo Credit: Anuradha Sharma) 
EOI, DARJEELING, JUNE 25, 2024 : To mark the killing of six tea garden workers on June 25,1955, in police firing, trade unions organized 'Sahid Diwas' public meetings and poster campaign in Darjeeling town on Tuesday. 
The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Chia Kaman Majdur Union (DTDCKMU) affiliated to the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists organized "Jan Jagaran '' public meeting at Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling.
DTDCKMU senior leader Sunil Rai said it was the moral duty of the present day tea garden workers to remember the martyrs. 
"Whatever benefit we are getting now is based on the agitation of 1955 and sacrifice of the six workers. We have a long way to goas far as receiving our welfare benefits are concerned even to this day. However, we must remember the martyrs and their sacrifice," he said. 
On June 25, 1955, six workers of the Margaret's Hope tea garden were killed in police firing while they were agitating for their rights. Those killed in the firing were: Jitman Majhi, Jitman Tamang, Mohini Subba Raini, Amritmaya Kamini, Padam Lal Kamiand Kale Limbu. They have been accorded the status of martyrs by t tea garden workers and trade unions of the hills."
Before 1955 there were no laws to safeguard or protect the welfare and benefits of the workers. The condition of workers was pathetic. There were no benefits like proper wages, bonus, medical allowance or ration money. It was only after he six workers were killed that the government took steps and measures to lookin to the demands of the workers," Rai said.
Under the leadership of prominent trade union leaders Ratanlal Brahmin and Deo Prakash Rai a committee was formed in June, 1955, to pursue the demands of the workers with the government. 
The committee had prepared a 14 point charter of demands and submitted it to the government. However with the government reluctant to hear the demands, the committee decided to go on an agitational path from June 22; to create pressure. 
As workers of all the tea gardens in the hills started agitation in their respective gardens, the police opened fire in the Margaret's Hope garden that resulted in the death of the six workers.
"We organized the public meeting today to send home a message to different unions that if we stand together we will be stronger and will be able to stand up to the government and tea garden management," said   Rai. 
The union leader cited the example of the decision of the West Bengal Government to rollback its notification to grant ownership of five decimals of land to workers. 
"All trade unions opposed the decision. This forced the state government to take back its notification. This shows that if we are together we can work for the welfare of the workers better," Rai said. 
The Hill Plantation Employees Union(HPEU) also organized a poster campaign with the demand of land right, implementation of the minimum wage act and medical allowance for workers; among the several demands.

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