Guwahati, Saturday, December 13, 2014
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Ration row sparks massive protests

 DIBRUGARH, Dec 12 – The ration row in Assam sparked massive protest today as several thousands of plantation workers staged demonstrations in their respective tea estates and later staged dharna in nearby Circle Offices and Deputy Commissioner Offices.

 The plantations workers led by Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) have vehemently protested against the move of the Centre to stop the aid to the tea industry for the supply of rations to the tea garden workers. The tea industry in Assam received major jolt today as workers moved out from the plantation enclaves in thousands to vent their resentment in cities and towns.

In the tea city here, several thousands of plantation workers from about sixty tea estates converged at the head office of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha at Jibon Phukan Nagar and took out their protest march via Convoy Road and Mancotta Road enroute to the office of the Deputy Commissioner. The march was organised by Khalihamari branch of the ACMS. As they marched, the workers waved banners, placards and flags of Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and ACMS. They raised anti NDA Government slogans. They also condemned Tarun Gogoi led State Government for its apathy towards the issue.

In Moranhat town, the protest march was led by MLA and Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Family Welfare, Jibontara Ghatowar and office bearers of Moranhat branch of the ACMS. Similar processions were also organised by Doomdooma, Margherita, Tingrai and Panitola ACMS branches in Tinsukia district and by Nazira and Sonari ACMS branches in Sivasagar district. Memorandums were submitted to the Chief Minister by the leaders of tea estate worker’s body, calling upon him to ensure that the rations of workers were not affected.

In Dibrugarh, the ACMS leaders submitted memorandum to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi through the district administration. Nabin Chandra Keot, secretary of Khalihamari branch said that they would resort to all forms of democratic agitations including bandhs in the event of failure on the part of the State and Central Government to make their stand clear on the ration issue within fifteen days.

It has been touted that the rations of the tea garden workers will be stopped if Centre discontinued with the subsidy to the tea Industry. Pradyut Bordoloi, Minister of Commerce and Industry had stated recently that the Centre had decided to stop supply of subsidized food grains for tea garden workers through FCI. However, a section of the intellectuals from the community are of the opinion that the total market price of the allotted quantity of rations must be moved to the daily wages of each worker so that their Provident Fund and Bonus is amplified. They have also demanded that the ration card under the National Food Security Act must be distributed to all the beneficiaries in tea plantations and that the tea management should not hijack their rights like the PDS.

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