DIBRUGARH, Dec 27 � The torching of the director�s bungalow at Kunapathar Tea Estate yesterday in which the director and his wife were charred to death has cast a shadow of gloom in the tea industry.
The estate is located under the Bordumsa Police Station in Tinsukia district near the Arunachal Pradesh border, and is very remotely located. Irate labourers of the estate resorted to the unprecedented violence last evening on the pretext of non-receipt of regular wages.
Tea barons in the State have lamented that such an inhuman act came about in the labour-intensive industry. �If the workers had anything against the owner of the plantation, they should have approached a proper forum for an amicable solution. Such a barbaric and inhuman act is strongly condemnable,� Rajib Barooah, chairman of the Assam Tea Planters� Association, told The Assam Tribune. The ATPA chairman has called upon the Government to book the culprits and award them appropriate punishment.
Police today identified the body of Rita Bhattacharya, wife of Mridul Kumar Bhattacharya, the director of MKB (Asia) Private Limited. Rita�s body was reportedly identified with the help of her son who arrived from Kolkata today. The second body is beyond recognition but circumstantial evidences and as per the versions of the locals, it can be assumed that the body is that of the tea plantation owner, MK Bhattacharya.
Dileswar Tanti, general secretary, Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), while condemning the incident, said that such acts would put the future of the tea industry into disarray. �It is unfortunate and the union does not subscribe to violent paths. If the workers had any grievances, they should have communicated it to the union for solutions,� he said.
Raphael Kujur, president of All Adivasi Students� Association of Assam (AASAA), has condemned the act of violence by the labourers. He also said that it has to be investigated what instigated the �normally peace loving� tea labourers to resort to the extreme step of setting a garden owners house on fire and also torching vehicles in the compound. A Maruti Gypsy and a Chevrolet Tavera, parked in the compound and belonging to the Bhattacharyas, were set on fire along with the bungalow.
Meanwhile, police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in the area to thwart any further violence. Police is yet to make any arrest of the perpetrators till late this evening.