TEA NEWS: On a tea trail at museum – Information centre, guesthouse to be part of project

TEA NEWS: On a tea trail at museum – Information centre, guesthouse to be part of project – Darjeeling to follow suit, but only after all the I’s & T’s are crossed over the GRA ?!!

The Assam morning cuppa - excellent when blended with Darjeeling's Champagne of Teas, strong and aromatic ?!! (HN Files)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY PULLOCK DUTTA

Guwahati, Oct. 4: The city will soon host a museum to showcase the world-famous colours and flavours of Assam tea.

The initiative to set up the tea museum has been taken by the Assam Small Tea Growers Association.

The commerce ministry and the Tea Board have assured financial support for the project. Dispur has promised to allot a plot of land at Lokhra for the project, which will come up early next year, the association’s president, C. Khanikar, told The Telegraph today.

“We are also organising a lottery among our members on November 5 to collect funds,” he added.

There is a tea museum at Tocklai Experimental Station in Jorhat, but it is not open to the public. The one that will come up here will be open to the public all the time.

Khanikar said as part of the project, an information centre and a guesthouse would also be set up in the complex that will house the museum.

“The museum will have details of the history of tea in Assam and the contribution of small tea growers to the tea industry in the state. We are trying to collect articles and photographs related to the small tea growers sector for the museum,” Khanikar said.

Assam has witnessed a revolution in the small tea sector in the past couple of decades. The small growers contribute nearly 30 per cent of the state’s 500 million kg annual tea production. The association has about 70,000 members.

Khanikar said the information centre would help the small growers work in an organised manner. “We will have a proper place to exchange ideas regularly. These interactions will help us work in a more organised manner,” he added.

Khanikar said the success of small tea growers in Kenya could be attributed to their organised functioning. “We learnt a lesson from them during our visit to that country a couple of years ago,” he said.

Members of the association, which is headquartered at Lohowal in Dibrugarh district, had always wanted a base here.

“It becomes difficult for our members from lower Assam to travel all the way to Dibrugarh to attend meetings,” the general secretary of the association, Karuna Mahanta, said.

He said the information centre would also have the facility to hold trainings for the members.

Cloud over planter return – the culture of vile kidnappings taking root like in South America ?!!

The power of Gorkha prayers - protect us from all evil ?!! (HN Files)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH STAFF REPORTER

Guwahati, Oct. 4: Bansidhar Sona, the tea executive who was abducted by suspected NDFB militants from Dibrudalang tea estate in Sonitpur district about 10 days back, was “rescued” from the Chingimari area under mysterious circumstances on Friday night.

The incident came to light only today with both police and Sona’s family trying to hush up the matter. Although Sona, the son-in-law of Dhekiajuli MLA Bhimananda Tanti, maintained that the militants fled after a group of securitymen had arrived at Chingimari area where he was held captive on Friday night, sources said that he was released after his family paid ransom to the militants.

Sona had walked to a nearby village after he was released in a paddy field in the area around midnight, sources said.

“He called up the police from the village. He was taken to his residence straight away,” a source said.

This is the third incident in Sonitpur district where militants have released kidnapped persons after being paidransom.

A schoolboy and a senior forest official from Maharashtra were reportedly released after their families paid ransom. The family of the schoolboy who was released in the Dhekiajuli area a few months back, had admitted to paying Rs 10 lakh to the militants to secure his release. Sonitpur has witnessed a series of abductions in recent times with at least six persons still in the custody of militants.

The NDFB has reportedly demanded Rs 50 lakh for the release of two railway employees who were kidnapped about a month back from the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

Sources in the army said that a special unit — para commandos — has been assigned to carry out special rescue operations following the spurt in incidents of abduction in the state.

“The para commandos were involved in yesterday’s operation inside Arunachal Pradesh bordering Dhemaji district of Assam,” an army official said.

Four militants were killed in the operation and a trader rescued.

A suspected NDFB militant was killed in an encounter with the police at Nogda area under Soteea police station in Sonitpur district last night.

A pistol and 1.5kg of RDX were found on the slain militant.

The police said the militant was involved in the abduction of a schoolteacher of Bhimajuli Lower Primary school on Wednesday.

“The militants had a good earning from a booming timber smuggling at Sonai-Rupai reserve forest. But timber smuggling has almost come to a stop; and as such they have resorted to kidnapping,” a police official said.

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