| Konapathar tea estate and (below) Mridul and Reeta Bhattacharjee. File pictures |
Jorhat, Dec. 29: The mortal remains of tea planter couple, Mridul Kumar Bhattacharjee and his wife, Reeta, were consigned to flames at the crematorium in Tinsukia town’s Parbotia area this afternoon in the presence of a handful of family members and neighbours.
Dressed in a dhoti and vest, their eldest son, Autri, lit the funeral pyre of his father while his younger brother, Rishi, lit their mother’s pyre. Rishi, who stays in Canada, arrived in Tinsukia earlier today.
His sister, Sreejaya Grass, who stays in the US, too, arrived today and stayed back at Bhattacharjee’s house at Gelapukhuri area of Tinsukia town.
Among those present during the cremation included a few relatives and the Tinsukia neighbours of the Bhattacharjee family and staff from the Tinsukia and Guwahati offices of the Konapathar tea estate. The manager of the Konapathar garden, R.H. Goodwin, and assistant manager T. Ahmed and a few members of the garden office staff were among those who attended the cremation. Two priests conducted the rituals.
P. Barman, accounts manager at the Guwahati office of the garden, who, too, was present at the funeral, told The Telegraph over phone this evening that a well-wisher from Canada also attended the last rites. Barman said the person was very dear to “sir and madam” as he was the son of a family friend. He said apart from other relatives, Mridul Bhattacharjee’s sister, Mridusmita Chablni, had flown in from Delhi today.
Barman said the shraddha ceremony would be held tomorrow at the Tinsukia residence of the family, following which family members, along with their close relatives, would discuss the future of the garden, which has remained closed since the incident on Wednesday.
Tinsukia deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram told this correspondent that during his meeting with Autri Bhattacharjee last night at the latter’s residence, Autri had expressed his willingness to carry forward the family’s tea business.
Sundaram said the eldest son had stated that the family members would discuss the matter of resuming work at the estate, if the situation there returned to normal. He said he had assured Autri of the district administration’s full support in this regard, including mediation between the workers of the estate by involving the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha — the largest and oldest tea labourers’ union in the state. He said the ACMS was in touch with the administration and also with workers of the garden. The deputy commissioner said the situation in the estate had remained peaceful, with the police keeping a close watch.
Assam director-general of police Jayanto Narayan Choudhury arrived in Tinsukia this evening to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the ghastly incident. Police sources said Choudhury reviewed the progress of the investigation with senior police officials.
Sources said those involved in the killing might be arrested tonight or in the wee hours tomorrow.