witnessed a shutdown for several hours, the first instance of a bandh after the 104-day-long shutdown in the Hills ended in September last year.
The strike here followed electrocution of a labourer. A section of the youths in the town forcefully closed shops and other business institutions and stopped vehicles as they protested the incident and pressured the electricity department.
The sudden bandh was, however, lifted after several hours. Residents of Dhargaon in Kurseong and Castleton Tea Estate demonstrated in front of the Customer Care Office of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (WBSEDCL) in Kurseong town with the body of the electrocuted Phurba Bal, 60, of Dhargaon.
“The person, who worked at the Castleton tea plantation, died because of the WBSEDCL’s negligence as he worked in the tea garden area near Durbin Dara in Kurseong at around 8 am today(Friday),” a protester said.
Another casual worker of the plantation, Sukman Rai, a resident of Noel Dara, Chenga, was also injured in the incident. The protesters demanded compensation for the family of the deceased and government job for the next of kin.
“There was a leakage in the electricity pole at Dara Gaon, and Bal was electrocuted there. His whole body was burnt due to the 11,000 KV electricity line. Another labour Sukman Rai was injured as he tried to rescue Bal. He is undergoing treatment in the Kurseong Sub-divisional hospital,” a villager said.
The protested alleged that they had informed the WBSEDCL of the leakage earlier too, “but no proper steps were taken by the electricity department.” A meeting was held between the Divisional Manager of the WBSEDCL, Kurseong, relatives of the deceased and other electricity officials in the presence of the vice-chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Anit Thapa, where it was decided that the electricity department would give the families of Bal and Rai Rs 5 lakh.
“They also assured government job for a member of the family of the deceased,” sources said. “At around 3 pm, his body was removed from the office premises and taken to the Kurseong hospital for postmortem,” they added.
Mr Thapa said he has already talked with senior electricity officials and the minister concerned in Kolkata, and they have agreed to provide compensation to the next kin of the deceased and injured. “We will arrange for job for one member of his family,” he said.