19 August 2020

Press Coverage of 'Khadya Suraksha Diwas'

Initiatives of the media team on 'Khadya Suraksha Diwas'

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity commemorated our cherished 15th August as the ‘Food Security Day or Khadya Suraksha Diwas’ to highlight the exclusion of a substantial number of vulnerable households from the Public Distribution System. Our media team in association with the district units collected numerous photographs and videos on the proceedings of that day. On 15th August, 2020 periodic briefings were provided by our district units to the media team and a press release was sent by the secretariat at the end of the day. Some of the links highlighting the people’s participation in the programme have been shared below:




Live footage of the initiatives had reached the team from different corners and those were shared on our various social media platforms. Some of the notable ones have been shared below:




Some of the photographs have also been shared below:

School children participating in a march in Delang, Purulia

Workers of Bamandanga Tea Garden, Jalpaiguri participating in 'Khadya Suraksha Diwas' adhering to physical distancing protocols

Our initiatives to engage with the media houses help us in reaching out to a large network of our well-wishers nationally as well as internationally and also to disseminate information about our work and struggles. We are indebted to all of our media partners for their untiring efforts to stand shoulder to shoulder with our members, often from the most marginalized sections of the population.

Khadya Suraksha Diwas

People Demand reforms in Public Distribution System and implementation of the NFSA, 2013 in its true spirit on our 74th Independence Day

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity commemorated our cherished 15th August as the ‘Food Security Day or Khadya Suraksha Diwas’ to highlight the exclusion of a substantial number of vulnerable households from the Public Distribution System. Today, around 300 villages from more than 12 districts across West Bengal came together to register their protest against the rising discontent amongst the masses on the inadequacies of the Public Distribution System. Door to door surveys of households were undertaken by our village units and banners and posters were put up in public places for mobilization exercises and also to inform the general public about our initiative. Some of the chief demands raised have been as follows:

  • Universal PDS and adequate rations
  • Removal of 5 different types of ration cards in West Bengal and one ration card for all
  • 14 kg of food grains, 1.5 kg of pulses, and 800 gram of edible oil per month per person for free.

Members began their day by hoisting the National Flag and various planned social action initiatives were undertaken. Demonstrations, sloganeering, small gatherings and rallies saw participation from the masses over the day.

Members in the august presence of the National Flag in Biramdi village, Purulia

Some of the highlights of our ‘Food Security Day or Khadya Suraksha Diwas’:

  • Parbhabanipur (Makalgacha GP, Hasnabad) is a village in which Khetmajoor Samity has started working recently. About 150 people registered to become members there. A few days after during a preparatory meeting for Independence Day, local party goons along with the local Panchayat member, threatened villagers and beat up a 55 year old man. The Panchayat member even went on to threaten people with dire consequences and said they would not get any of their benefits and entitlements from the government if they continued supporting PBKMS. Despite these threats, today about 40 people participated in the Food Security Day and carried out a flag hoisting in their village. They have all resolved to continue to be PBKMS members.
  • In Shyamnagar village of Balarampur block in Purulia, while 6-8 of our women members were hoisting the flag and putting up our posters, their village civic police volunteer ordered them to tear down the posters. He threatened them with arrest if they did not do so. The women finished their program quickly and went back to their homes

                  Women in Shyamnagar, Purulia saluting the National flag
Half an hour later, at 12.30 pm, the police came and picked up Bhim Gope, the husband of Sanakha Gope, who leads our work in that village. Bhim is known as a simple minded, silent and good manual worker. He was not at all involved in the program and was in fact, busy building someone‘s mud wall. Several of our senior members called the district police (starting from the SP down to the OC), the Zilla Sabhadipati and ruling party leaders. Friends in the press and in other unions also made repeated calls. We were told that they were enquiring about our involvement in extremist activities, as we had put up posters on Independence Day.

A similar incident has taken place just about 2 months back in Hura police station and more recently in this very same police station (Balarampur). Each time, our activists have been detained in the police station for hours for no rhyme or reason. Bhim Gope was released at 8 PM finally. His crime – he is the husband of a village woman who hoisted the national flag on Independence Day and drew public attention to the problem of hunger during the COVID 19 pandemic.

  • In 3 Gram Panchayats in Manbazar block in Purulia, the local elected officials were very supportive. The panchayat pradhans, upa-pradhans, and members participated in the events enthusiastically. They told PBKMS members that your demands are the same as ours. They took posters and handbills and distributed it themselves.

Elected Gram Panchayat members enthusiastically participated in our event at Bhurasole, Purulia

In Pifa GP in Basirhat-1 in North 24 Paraganas, the Panchayat Pradhan and Upa-pradhan also met with about 250 assembled PBKMS members. They assured people that they were in full support of PBKMS demands.
  • Danton 1 block of Paschim Midnapore, local youth clubs participated in the survey. Community members and political leaders across party lines took part in the flag hoisting event and postering campaigns. In Bamanberiya, where PBKMS distributed masks to the community; the Vice President of the Panchayat Samity participated along with PBKMS.
  • Cultural activities were organized at a number of villages in Purulia and South 24-Parganas.
The survey forms from all the field areas will be collected in the coming days by the respective district units and the data hence generated will be collated for specific advocacy initiatives. Member of Parliament(s) of the respective constituencies will also be engaged with and the organization plans to sustain the initiative of taking up the inadequacies in the Public Distribution System with its national networks and state partners.

16 August 2020

Campaign for Land Rights Starts in Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri.

 Desh Hua Azad, Lekin Hum Rahe Bagan Mallikon Ke Gulam
In this independent country, we  are still slaves of the tea garden owners

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity commemorated 15th August as the ‘Food Security Day or Khadya Suraksha Diwas’ to highlight the exclusion of a substantial number of vulnerable households from the Public Distribution System. The event also aimed to address various other problems of the tea garden workers like Fair wages and Land Rights.

Presently, the tea garden workers are receiving only Rs 176/- as their daily wages. However, the 7th Pay Commission has declared Rs 18000/- a month as the minimum wage in 2016.Tea garden workers are therefore demanding their wages to be raised to Rs 600/- per day, which would be at par with the recommendation of the 7th Pay Commission. 

Lankapara Tea Estate, Alipurduar


Birpara Tea Estate, Alipurduar

Bamandanga Tea Garden, Jalpaiguri

Dhumchipara Tea Garden, Alipurduar

 Demand for adequate Land rights for the tea garden workers was also incorporated in the event. 

The petition demanding land rights which that was circulated amongst the tea garden workers.


Subibit Dhanwar (47) , a tea garden worker from Madhu tea estate of Satali gram panchayat, Kalchini Block, Alipurdurar, inaugurated PBKMS’s campaign to demand land rights by becoming the first person to fill up a form demanding land ownership from the State Government.

Subibit’s family has been residing in the tea garden since 3 generations. The land where they have built their house is allotted by the company, but they do not possess any legal ownership over the same. This means that the moment he loses his job or retires from work, he would become homeless. The company would ask him to vacate the property. This forces workers like Subibit into a state of bondage where they become slaves and accept everything the management says including low wages because they have nowhere else to go. 

Subibit Dhanwar fills up the application form for land rights

All that Subibit’s family demand is ownership of the land where they have lived for 150 years. Subibit has signed the petition demanding the land rights circulated by PBKMS and shall continue to fight for the cause.  

Another issue of significance that came up was that despite the promise given by the CM in 2016, not all tea garden workers have Antodaya(AAY) ration cards. Quotas have been placed by the Central Government based on 2011 population figures which are also preventing the Government from issuing more AAY cards. Complaints about quantity and quality are also rampant .

A Tea Garden worker displays their demands in Nagaisuree Tea Estate, Jalpaiguri

On the whole, Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri witnessed significant participation for the event. Khadya Suraksha Diwas was organized in many tea gardens such as Birpara, Garganda, Lankapara, Ramjhora, Hantapara, Madhu, Raimatang, Torsa , Dhumchipara, Bandapani, Raipur, Nagaisuree, Patharjhora, Bamandanga-Tondoo etc.  Members began their day by hoisting the National Flag and various planned social action initiatives like demonstrations, sloganeering, small gatherings.

The people discussed their issues and demands in the gatherings. While they demanded their rights, some of the villages also mourned for the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in Galwan Valley. 

PBKMS members after flag hoisting in Patharjhora Tea Garden in Jalpaiguri before beginning their campaign for land rights


PBKMS intends to take up the issue of wages , food and land with all concerned officials. 15th August thus marked the beginning of their campaign, especially for land rights.

- Written by Joel Jose, Student, M.A. Development, Azim Premji University