One among these people numbering around 15 have written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking permission to commit suicide at the Dheklapara tea garden here. The garden has remained shut for ten years now and unemployment, poverty and malnourishment have seriously affected its ill-fated workers. Some people have lost their eye-sight while some the power to walk.
Every morning, some of these people go to pick rocks at the nearby Kalua river to earn Rs 40 a day and often get injured. The local tea garden workers said they would fast unto death if the government didn't provide them jobs.
Only economic hardships isn't the whole story either. Even workers at tea gardens which are still functioning are often exploited by the owners and the labour rights are violated. Attacks by elephants and other wild animals are another concern for these people besides the lack of minimum services like electricity and water supply. Rampant alcoholism among the depressed souls is another pressing social problem.
The helpless workers, however, have no way to get their issues addressed. They are abused by the owners whenever they approach them with their grievances.
These people are even left unprotected against women's and children's trafficking. One woman said her daughter-in-law was allegedly raped by her co-worker in Delhi after she feel prey to trafficking touts, who operate as placement agents. The victim later got pregnant and came back but her family couldn't do anything for her.