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Owner, wife under siege at tea estate
- Citu protests entry into ‘liquidated’ property

Siliguri, June 19: The owner of Redbank Tea Estate in Banarhat, Jalpaiguri, invited the wrath of Citu supporters today when he tried to enter the manager’s bungalow of the garden, which has been declared liquidated property by a high court order.

The Citu controls the operations and maintenance committee running Redbank now.

Rabin Paul, his wife and two managerial employees from the adjacent Surendranagar Tea Estate, which is also owned by Paul, had to lock themselves inside the bungalow as hundreds of Citu supporters surrounded the building and threatened them with dire consequences.

The Redbank bungalow is located at the edge of the garden, close to Surendranagar. Paul was visiting Surendranagar for the first time today after it reopened in May.

Paul called up the Banarhat police station and Jalpaiguri additional superintendent of police Tapas Das from his mobile phone seeking help. A police force, led by the inspector-in-charge of Banarhat police station, reached Redbank soon after and guided the group out of the bungalow.

“The agitators continued hurling abuse at us,” Paul recounted. “Then they suddenly attacked my driver, who was waiting outside, right in front of the policemen. He was injured in the head, but somehow managed to drive us out of the garden.”

The driver, Adip Majumdar, was taken to Banarhat hospital. Narayan Toppo, an assistant manager of Surendranagar who was with Paul, has lodged a complaint with the Banarhat police against the Citu supporters.

“We went there to protest,” said Debabrata Pal, a Citu leader and the head clerk of Redbank. “Paul entered a property which has been declared liquidated.”

Paul said he had gone to the bungalow to get it ready for Jairam Ramesh , the Union minister of state for commerce, who is expected to visit the garden on June 29. Ramesh is hoping to reopen Redbank and Bharnobari, two of the 13 closed estates in the Dooars, on that day.

“I am still the owner of Redbank because the court-appointed liquidator is yet to take possession of the garden and I have already appealed in the high court for a stay on the liquidation,” said Paul.

The police confirmed that they had received a complaint from Toppo, but were critical of Paul’s decision to enter the bungalow. “He should have acted more responsibly and refrained from entering a property under liquidation,” said the additional superintendent of police.

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