Jalpaiguri (WB): Two tea garden labourers allegedly died due to starvation in Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts, even as the administration maintained that the deaths were caused by regular ailments.
RSP-affiliated UTUC leader Nirmal Das said a woman tea labourer, Budhni Oraon (37), died of starvation on Thursday after not getting wages for nine months in a tea garden at Birpara area (of Alipurduar district) which had been facing stalemate for several months.
Oraon's family also claimed she was ailing for months for not getting ration and died of malnutrition. However, a district official while confirming Budhi's death, said she had perished due to 'natural ailment' and her family was not starving as the said tea garden had not been closed.
In a similar incident, a labourer Mahabir Mahali died at a closed tea garden in Banarhat area of Jalpaiguri district last night. A district official said Mahali had been ailing for some time and it was not related to starvation deaths. However, Mahali's family and Joint Forum of tea garden labourers Secretary Chitto Dey said acute financial stress due to closure of the tea garden contributed to his death.
Late last month, two labourers, both in their sixties, died at two closed north Bengal tea gardens in November, but the administration said these were in no way starvation- related.
Both the district officials claimed they were regularly supplying rice to the workers at Rs 2 per kg.