Guwahati, Nov. 30: Dispur will issue an advisory this week, warning tea gardens of severe action if they conceal monetary demands from militant outfits.
A senior official today said there were reports of several tea gardens, particularly in Upper Assam, being slapped with demands for money but they had not reported the matter to police.
There are ways of getting information even if they (tea gardens) do not report the demands. If we come to know that they are not reporting such matters to the police then we will take stern action against them, the official said.
The governments hardened stand comes after the blast at a garden in Sivasagar district last week. The official said the government had reasons to believe the blast was triggered after the tea garden authorities failure to fulfil a demand for money.
However, no casualties were reported in the blast.
The remote-controlled bomb, however, left a gaping hole in a portion of the wall close to the managers residence.
Police sources said Ulfa had demanded a hefty sum from the garden, which it failed to pay.
The official said there were reports that Ulfa might target tea gardens in Upper Assam, particularly in Golaghat, Jorhat and Sivasagar districts, with more vigour.
The outfit had suffered a major setback to its collection drive after the Alpha and Charlie companies of Ulfas 28 battalion declared a truce in June.
They (Ulfa) have lost Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts after the Alpha and Charlie companies decided to come overground. They are left with these three districts, where the Bravo company is active, to raise money, the official said adding the government was already contemplating stepping up security in the gardens, but the gardens have to co-operate with us.
Tea industry sources, however, felt that reporting the demands to the police was fraught with danger.
Yes, we admit that some gardens may not be reporting the extortion attempts to the police but this is mainly because they are afraid of the possible repercussions, one of them said.
The source added that the security forces have not always covered themselves in glory when it came to apprehending militants.
Some gardens are located at very remote places and they have to devise ways to ensure survival of their staff. It is possible that some prefer to buy peace rather than invoke the wrath of militants by going to the police, he said.