TEA WATCH: ‘Ulfa’ attacks planter, torches cars – comparatively Darjeeling still a preferred posting ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Dibrugarh, July 1: Suspected Ulfa militants today assaulted the manager of a tea garden and an employee before torching two mini trucks and a motorcycle in the estate at Bijulibon under Pengeri police station in Tinsukia district.
The seven-member armed group, believed to be Ulfa cadres, beat up Sadhan Kumar Tamuli, the manager of Luit tea estate, and an employee, Bhaskar Jyoti Changmai Phukon, while the duo were on their way to the garden office around 10.45 this morning.
This is the second such attack on a garden in Upper Assam in recent days, raising concerns about Ulfa’s plan to target the tea industry yet again.
On June 17, a group of suspected Ulfa cadres had carried out a similar attack at Bajrangpur tea estate under Doomdooma police station and tried to assassinate the garden manager Indra Kumar Baruah, who however, escaped unhurt.
Police said the duo were severely beaten up by the attackers.
“Apart from beating up the duo, who had to be administered first aid at a primary health centre at Pengeri, the Ulfa cadres also burnt down two mini trucks and a motorcycle, besides resorting to blank firing, Kusheswar Bora, the police circle inspector of Margherita circle, said over phone.
The two trucks were used by the garden to ferry green leaf.
Bora was among the first to reach the area, which is around 25km from Pengeri police station and hardly has any road.
The tea estate is owned by Dulal Chandra Roy of Doomdooma. “The garden had received a demand note from Ulfa around four months back, Tinsukia superintendent of police, Diganta Bora, said. However, the SP could not reveal the amount demanded by the outfit.
“We had not received any formal complaint from the garden authorities. However, we knew it from our sources that Ulfa had demanded money from some tea estates in the inter-state border areas,” the police official added.
During the past couple of months, there has been a resurgence of Ulfa-related activities in the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border areas with several tea gardens being served extortion notices by the outfit.
Apart from the June 17 incident at Bajrangpur tea estate, suspected Ulfa cadres had also abducted a garden manager, Karanbir Sharma, from his residence at Nampong in Piyong circle in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh on Monday night.
Despite a joint operation launched by the police forces of both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the manager is yet to be traced. Sharma, 50, is from Haryana.
Two units of army — the 8 Garhwal Rifles and 24 Maratha Light Infantry —had been conducting a series of operations in the inter-state border areas since the abduction took place.
Intelligence sources said a group of heavily-armed Ulfa cadres, led by Arindam Saharia alias Bijoy Kalita, is camping in the inter-state border areas and carrying out extortion-related activities for quite some time now.
The tea industry had always been at the receiving end of Ulfa. As a matter of fact, the assassination of tea planter Surrendra Paul in the early 1990s led to the army launching Operation Bajrang against Ulfa.