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Scribe sold photographs to gift clothes to children in closed tea gardens in north Bengal

Sanjib Mukhopadhyay sold photographs of wildlife of north Bengal forests and raised money to gift clothes to as many as 1,440 children before the pujas.

kolkata Updated: Oct 02, 2017 11:26 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Tea Garden,Alipurduar,Durga Puja
Sanjib Mukhopadhyay gifting dress to a child of a worker of a closed tea garden on September 19 (Mahalaya).(HT Photo)

For the past few weeks Sanjib Mukhopadhyay, a scribe by profession and a photographer by passion, was busy on the streets of Alipurduar in north Bengal selling pictures of wildlife in the foothills of the Himalayas he clicked over the year than discharging his professional obligations.

His objective: raise as much money as possible to gift new clothes to the children of two tea gardens that are lying closed in the area.

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“My hawking exercise started three weeks ago and ended on September 27, the day of Saptami. I was able to provide new clothes to 1,440 children of the closed tea garden workers. To generate funds I sold photographs mostly of wildlife in the Dooars including that of birds and insects,” Mukhopadhyay told HT.

File picture of a rally by workers of closed Bundapani tea estate in Alipurduar district. (HT Photo)

Tea gardens in West Bengal are going through one of the worst crisis. About two dozen gardens are closed and till recently there were regular reports of deaths of workers due to symptoms related to malnutrition. Last year, about 70 such deaths were reported from the gardens in West Bengal, the majority of which were in the Dooars region.

A resident of Alipurduar, 44-year-old Mukhopadhyay is a father of two children, one aged six and the other three.

A journalist with a Bengali daily of north Bengal, Uttarer Saradin (The Day in North Bengal), he regularly clicks pictures of wildlife in the forests on north Bengal.

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The condition of the workers and their children in the closed tea gardens of Madhu and Ramdhura close to his home pained Mukhopadhyay a lot.

Mukhopadhyay first tried selling his pictures last year to gift clothes to the children. “But I managed to cover 610 children only. This year, I began with a target to reach 1,400 children. I happy to have surpassed it,” he said.

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The locals responded warmly to the gesture and bought his pictures, though not always with big amounts. “A photograph sold for only Rs 200. But I am grateful that people of Alipurduar came forward to help me. To attract buyers, I also arranged musical programmes at my temporary stalls with the help of some of my friends who are musicians,” said Mukhopadhyay.

“With whatever I earn, I take care of my children. But the workers of these closed tea gardens have hardly any resources to cater to the basic needs of their children, During the festive days, the difference between our children and theirs becomes glaring. As a social animal I responded to the call of conscience,” he said.

First Published: Oct 02, 2017 11:26 IST