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Veteran Hill Communist leader dies

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

Veteran Communist leader from Darjeeling Hills, Sangdopal Lepcha, passed away in a private nursing home in Siliguri on Sunday after a prolonged illness. Lepcha, a resident of Sahidnagar here, was 95. CPI-M leaders paid their tributes in front of the CPI-M party office on Hill Cart Road this on Sunday afternoon.

Family members took his body and decided to keep it at Singtom in Darjeeling where local people, leaders and workers associated with tea plantations can pay their last respects to him. Party workers said they will organize his last journey on Wednesday. Darjeeling district CPI-M party secretary Jibesh Sarkar said his demise was a great loss to the party. “Sangdopal Lepcha does not have enemies.

SP Lepcha sacrificed a lot for the party. Lepcha was competent as an organizer. He joined the party in 1949 and is one of the founders of the party in Darjeeling district,” Mr Sarkar said. “He proposed my name as the party secretary, and decided to retire voluntarily due to illness,” he added. Party sources said Lepcha was a Darjeeling district party secretary between 1992 and 2012.

He was a member of Rajya Sabha for five years from 1984 and was elected Member of Parliament in 1999. He was a teacher in a school under the Singtom Tea Plantation management. While working there, he started organizing tea workers and started a movement, demanding their legitimate claims.

“The management had resolved the problems of workers following the agitation in 1950, but it had decided to prevent SP Lepcha from organizing workers while also being in the teaching profession. Finally, Lepcha quit the job and started organizing tea plantation workers as a whole-time party worker,” a party leader said.