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‘Farm labourers victim of land acquisition process'

Staff Reporter

KOLKATA: Pradip Bhattacharjee, president of the State unit of the Indian National Trade Union Congress, said here on Thursday that although the Left Front government claims to stand for peasants and workers, it works against their interests.

Addressing a gathering of workers before courting arrest for violating prohibitory orders during a march to the State Secretariat, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “I would not like to comment on issues that do not pertain to workers, but agricultural labourers are a victim of the land acquisition process”.

He said that many agricultural labourers who worked in Rajarhat, on the city's north-eastern fringe, had approached him claiming that they lost their source of income overnight.

The land owners have received money in return for their land, but these labourers, who depended on the land but have no legal claim, have not received any compensation, he added.

Controversy

The township project initiated by the State's Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) at Rajarhat has snowballed into a major controversy after Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee made allegations of forcible land acquisition there.

Mr. Bhattacharjee also said that it was possible to create a joint front of workers from trade unions that shared a common ideology and were affiliated to secular organisations.

Targeting the Communist Party of India (Marxist)- backed Centre of Indian Trade Unions (C.I.T.U.), Mr. Bhattacharjee said it had deserted the fight for the cause of the workers.

“More than 56,000 factories remain closed, workers are losing jobs and the conditions of workers in the unorganised sector are pitiable, but C.I.T.U. has not launched any agitation,” said Mr. Bhattacharjee adding that the turnout at the demonstration had indicated that even the workers had joined the struggle for the ouster of the Left Front government.

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