The Ignored Fight of Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited Employees

Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited

Unemployment and Privatisation are the two biggest scandals that are glued with the present right wing government and still the government does not even care to erase the scandals because it gets benefit from these scandals. In an agricultural country, workers should be on the throne, and government should work on how to protect and secure the throne. Just like “V” said “People should not be afraid of the government, rather the government should be afraid of the people”. But sadly, the government is imposing rules and policies that is forcing the citizens to be afraid of the government. After the huge win of the right wing government in 2014, many people expected development but the things it gave to the youth are uncanny patriotism, underdeveloped education, unemployment, forcing them to work in private sector jobs and making them involved in extremist works.

Panchgram! Being a citizen of India, and since I live in the struggling valley of Barak, I see the whole Indian media and people of other places, especially West India, completely blatant and unaware of what the biggest industry of this continent which resides in Barak Valley and Nagaon is going through. Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited (HPCL) of Panchgram and Nagaon district are not small scale industries which deserves ignorance of the Centre and the people of India. Rather they deserve proper attention since for years they have given pride to the North Eastern region of India. The Hindustan Paper Corporation Limited of Cachar District was closed on October 20, 2015 while the Nagaon Paper mill was closed on March 31, 2017 without prior notice by the Central government and now the employees are not being given the rightful salary they deserve after they lost their jobs from last four years. More than 2 lakh people worked under the Centre owned paper mills and now they are left jobless from last four years and now they are bound to work in private schools and other jobs with low salary because they have crossed the age of government jobs. During my childhood and even in my adolescence, Panchgram and Nagaon always had been one of the most beautiful urban places of North East due to the presence of two biggest industries of Asia. The place had proper development because an industrial place is supposed to have developed roads and economy (not necessary always because industries in Bastar and other forest areas would destroy all the richness of nature). Now, what is left in the homes of the jobless people of paper mills are deaths and hunger, industry full of rusty materials for no use and wastage of priceless machineries.

Before the 2016 assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi came in the Barak Valley and promised to start and revive both the paper mills but he did not even care for the employees and the industry. Similarly, this year before the Central Election, he promised to start the industry and till today no one speaks of the incident even in talk shows or Prime Time shows of Indian media. On the other hand, the 2 lakh people who have lost their job are selling their homes to save their family from hunger, forcing their children to leave studies because they cannot deposit any more money on their study, selling everything to get money for treatment and if they are not able to do anything they are committing suicides. For many moral science believers, suicide can be the act of cowards, but here it is not the same. Employees are committing suicides for the overload of stress. In this world, for survival, two things that work best are money and money. Nothing else! Period.

Out of the two lakh jobless people, 55 employees have faced death of various kinds for stress. Three out of them hanged themselves (suicide) to save their heart and head from this government. One human being cannot survive without getting proper money to feed himself and his family. From last four years, the employees who worked day and night are not being given their salary and the government talks about development. Irony! One of the suicide victims, Biswajit Chakraborty is one of my closest known persons. He had a family of four and now all of them are helpless after he committed suicide and we cannot blame him. Two other suicide victims belong to Nagaon Paper mill, Radhika Majumder and Prabha Deka. Should we call these as suicides or murders? I leave it to you. If someone asks me, I would say these are murders. Pure murders done by the government.

My uncle used to work in the paper mill of Panchgram. After he lost his job, he had to force his son, who is a brilliant student, to leave his study because he has to look after his daughter and wife. One year after he lost his job, he sold his home and now lives in a rented house with all the money kept for his daughter. He now works in a school where he earns Rs. 5000 as his salary. Few days back he was crying to my mother about how helpless he feels because he is not able to see any hope of getting his salary back. Imagine the pain of two lakh jobless people who are going through the same pain. After the Modi government came to power, the unemployment percentage reached its zenith (6.1%). Many of his followers, debated on how fake this data is and they promised to release the real data and just like all other promises, this too did not appear.

Panchgram today is facing the biggest crisis and no one bothers to talk about this place and crisis. Not the rest of the country, neither the sold media, nor the human rights activists who find the paper mill incident as a piece of cake on which they want to feed to earn more fame and money. In between all the debates, the Centre is on the verge to convert this industry into a private firm beneath the palm of capitalists like Adani and Ambani like it has done to Jet Airways by giving 50% share to Mukesh Ambani. For many, privatisation seems to be a better scheme but I feel pity for all of them because they are not even aware of how underdeveloped would be the industry and its employees would face more crisis. Privatisation for a developing country and especially in a country like India would be a disaster. It would increase natural monopoly which would increase the price of the product irrespective of its demand. Similarly, the profit of the industry would be the biggest concern in a private industry rather than the employee and customer benefit. Privatisation creates private monopolies. These need regulating to prevent abuse of monopoly power. Therefore, there is still need for government regulation, similar to under state ownership but sadly, the people do not even care to raise their voice except few activists. Privatisation would lead to decrease in the product quality and also their would be decrease in the employee benefit. Privatised paper mill would go for short term projects and that has never been the case of Centre owned paper mills.

In volatile situations, people give nation hope to rise above the volatility. Today the fight is not only against the government policies but it is also a fight against privatisation, which always has been the scheme of right wing of every country. If we even start to feel for even one family out of the two lakh families, then also the fight would become stronger. People are running out of hope and all we care is for how well our cricket team plays. To develop a country, it is necessary that everyone should develop equally and for this we need to fight for everyone.

Kabir Deb is a published writer and poet. Born in Haflong and completed his Masters on Life Sciences from Assam University. His work has been published from different national and international magazine like Different Truths, Counter Currents, Reviews, Cafe Dissensus, Spillwords magazine and his works rely on political activisvm.


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