Guwahati: while the Centre has turned a blind eye towards the hardships faced by employees of Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd (HPCL), a now-defunct central enterprise, popular stand-up comedian Abhineet Mishra has taken a stand with a fundraiser for them.
A Shillong native, Mishra recently completed a three-city tour to Shillong, Tezpur and Guwahati, the proceeds of which will go to the families of HPCL who have not received salaries in over 36 months.
Referring to a video of the kids of the employees of HPC trying to raise funds for their education on the streets which had gone viral earlier last month, the journalist turned stand-up comedian said, “One fine day, I saw this video of young children who were going from one shop to the other shop, not begging, but asking for money for paying the fees. I thought you’ve got to be completely dead inside to not be moved by that, right? And if it happens in your region that you belong to, you have to sort of pick up some issues.”
He explained that the job of a comic in today’s world is to look at anger, look at calamity and chaos, absorb all of it, but not get angry while presenting it out. “So I feel, hosting comedy show, you see people had a great laugh, everybody came in together had the cases being taken, had fun, went back smiling, but also they did not realise that what they’ve done is contributed in some small way to some family, which is struggling in HPCL,” he said.
In January, he had put the information out the proceeds for these shows will go to the HPCL affected families, to which he had inquiries from London and Dubai, for contribution. Mishra added, “There is a fundraiser we are planning and people are contributing from outside.”
The paper mills
The Cachar and Jagiroad paper mills that once sustained the lives of many are now in dire straits.
The fate of hundreds of workers and their family members, whose lives were solely dependent on the paper mill, are now dying a slow death.
Their ordeal started when Hindustan Paper Corporation suspended production at the Cachar and Jagiroad paper mills since October 2016 and March 2017, respectively.
Over the years, more than 51 workers have died prematurely while in service due to tension related to financial difficulties. Some died or lost near and dear ones because they didn’t have the money for medical treatment, and three cases of suicides have also been reported.