Guwahati, Dec 27 (IANS): The law-and-order situation was under control even as tension gripped the MKB Tea Estate in Bordumsa of Tinsukia district on Thursday, a day after a group of agitated labourers burnt alive the estate's owner and his wife, police said.
Tinsukia Superintendent of Police PP Singh said the labourers continued their protest till late Wednesday night but a large number of security personnel were deployed in the tea estate to stop further escalation of violence.
"We recovered two lumps of flesh from the charred bungalow. We suspect them to be of the owner and his wife. However, we are awaiting the arrival of the victims' son from Kolkata for an official confirmation," Tinsukia Superintendent of Police PP Singh told IANS on Thursday.
About 1,000 labourers on Wednesday evening allegedly set afire MKB Tea Estate owner Mridul Kumar Bhattacharya (75) after locking him and his wife Rita inside their bungalow. The labourers were protesting against the arrest of two colleagues by the police.
"We have started the investigation but no one has been arrested so far," said Singh, adding that action would be taken after the post-mortem report is made available to the police.
According to a local tea community leader, two labourers were arrested by police earlier when they refused to vacate their tea estate quarters despite eviction notices by the management.
"Some workers met Bhattacharya on Wednesday morning and requested him to get the arrested labourers released. He, however, did not pay any heed to the request and threatened the workers of dire consequences. This angered the labourers and they took the extreme step," he said.
Bhattacharya, who also owned the Rani Organic Tea Estate, some eight km from here, was booked for the murder of a 15-year-old youth in 2010. He was later released on bail in the murder case.
The 2010 incident took place when a group of villagers staged a protest in front of his house after he raised objections against the use of a road inside the Rani estate by the locals and harassed a woman. Bhattacharya opened fire at the protesters, in which the boy sustained bullet injuries and died.
Bhattacharya, a mechanical engineer by training, was from Tezpur. He had worked for many tea estates in Assam before winning a contract worth several crores of rupees for drilling and laying of pipelines in the State in the 1980s. Later, he bought two tea estates - one at Bordumsa in Tinsukia and the other at Rani in Kamrup district.
An official said that both the estates were making profit till a few years back. The Bhattacharyas, however, received a setback after the incident at the Rani tea estate two years ago, he said.