TEZPUR, April 17 � At a time when the people of the State are celebrating Rongali Bihu, the self-immolation bid by 54 muster roll workers of Vartak, under Border Roads Organisation, has taken the people as well as the administration here by surprise.
The self-immolation bid in front of the Vartak office here amidst the Bihu festivity was, however, prevented due to the quick intervention by mediapersons who rushed to the spot on receiving the information of the same.
It may be mentioned here that despite repeated demands, the jobs of about 350 muster roll labourers, working as casual payment labourers under �Project Vartak�, have not been regularised as per the Regulations of the Border Roads Organisation, since long.
The Project Vartak engages temporary labourers for construction of roads, buildings and technical works in the region.
The labourers, who have been fighting for their rights and demands under the banner of the Indian Trade Union Congress, alleged that they have been forced to commit suicide as they have been deprived of their dues, thereby forcing their families to live a miserable life.
They said that repeated petitions to the authorities concerned regarding regularisation of temporary posts failed to elicit a positive result. They had submitted several memoranda on March 27, even to the District Judge and the Deputy Commissioner. They also forwarded the same to the President of India, the Prime Minister and the Geneva-based International Labour Organisation, seeking justice. But their demands have allegedly fallen on deaf ears.
Pranab Borthakur, one of the 54 labourers who came here to commit suicide, said, �We, the muster roll workers under HQ, Vartak and Tezpur, have been struggling since 1985 for our rights and against the deliberate, gross injustice and negligence of the authority of �Project Vartak�.
�The Vartak (BRO) authority wants to remove us from the muster roll. We had made repeated appeals to the authorities concerned, but our issues were neglected. As we got no positive response from the BRO authority, despite our years-long struggle to gain our legitimate right, we decided to commit suicide as our lives have become hell.�
The police arrived soon after and detained the 54 persons who wanted to commit suicide.