‘Govt of India Responsible’: Assam Paper Mill Worker Kills Self

He was not paid his salary for 25 months.

3 min read
Biswajit Majumdar, a staffer at the Nagaon paper mill in Assam, killed himself recently.

Biswajit Majumdar, a senior engineer working at a paper mill in Assam’s Nagaon, run by the Hindustan Paper Corporation (HPC), was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his residence in Nagaon on Monday, 29 April.

He was facing acute financial crisis after allegedly not receiving his salary for the last 28 months.

The abandoned paper mill in Nagaon.
The abandoned paper mill in Nagaon.
(Photo: The Quint)

Majumdar was the Utility and Distribution Manager at the Nagaon mill, which had stopped operations in March 2017.

His alleged suicide note, which was carved onto the door of a refrigerator, read: “I quit. Government of India is responsible for my death.”

Photo of the alleged suicide note left by Majumdar, carved into a refrigerator door.
Photo of the alleged suicide note left by Majumdar, carved into a refrigerator door.
(Photo: The Quint)

'Worried About Making Ends Meet’

Majumdar, who hailed from Kolkata, is survived by his wife and twin daughters. While his wife lives in Kolkata, one of his daughters is pursuing her MPhil from Delhi University, while the other is a research scholar in Kerala.

Speaking to The Quint, Majumdar’s family and colleagues said that expenses for his daughter’s education as well concerns about his own health were weighing on his mind for some time.

“One of his daughters got an offer from an University in Germany. The cost would come to about 6-7 lakh rupees. He was disappointed that he couldn’t cover the costs”, said PK Roy, Majumdar’s colleague.

“We held protests, went on hunger strikes and tried everything but the government is not listening to us”, said Dulal Boro, another colleague.

Health was also problem that worried Majumdar.

“He had some kind of problem in his throat. He was scared that it might be cancer as many people working in the mill had suffered the same”, said Bhaskar Moitra, Majumdar’s brother-in-law.

His daughters had booked an appointment with a doctor for his throat problem, after the last conversation they had with him on 27 April.

A day before Majumdar committed suicide, Partha Deb (54), a technician working at the Cachar Paper Mill in Panchgram, close to Naogaon, had died of a liver ailment.

Manabendra Chakraborty, chief of the workers’ union at Cachar Paper Mill, had said that Deb “could not afford treatment due to his financial situation”, according to an Indian Express report.

Majumdar was No 35 and Deb No 20 in separate “death lists” maintained by the workers’ unions of the two mills since early 2015, when the salaries stopped.

The list includes names of two more suicide victims, as per the report.

Chakraborty said that these deaths were primarily caused by financial woes and related complications. “Last 28 months, there has been no salary. They have also stopped Provident Fund, pension and gratuity.”

The Nagaon and Cachar paper mills, which comes under the Union ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises, had stopped production in 2017 without any formal notice. Since then, the workers have held multiple protests to restart the mill but to no avail.

“It is most painful that we have to see our colleagues dying on the eve of May Day, the international workers' solidarity day, due to non-payment of their dues payment," Chakraborty had told The Times of India.

“The government has not said anything. There has been no notice. Employees have to attend duties. They haven’t said you are released. If you do not want our services, release us after settling dues,” he added.

Since the mill closed down in March 2017, three employees have taken their lives.

(With inputs from The Times of India, The Indian Express)

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