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Tea estate remains closed for sixth day

Jorhat, Jan. 1: Konapathar tea estate in Tinsukia district of Assam remained closed for the sixth day today since the brutal killing of owner Mridul Kumar Bhattacharjee and his wife Reeta by labourers on December 26 evening.

Efforts are on by the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), the largest and oldest tea workers’ union in the state, the district administration and the garden management to hold formal talks between the parties concerned soon to enable resumption of work.

T. Ahmed, assistant manager of the garden, told this correspondent over phone from Tinsukia that the situation was peaceful at Konapathar but fear prevailed among the office staff who had fled the estate after the ghastly incident.

He said though eight persons have been arrested, the other culprits involved in the heinous crime needed to be apprehended to create a sense of security among the management executives and other office staff to return to the garden.

“The police have assured us that all those involved in the crime have been identified and efforts are on to arrest them,” he said.

Agreeing that it was in the interest of all to resume work in the garden, Ahmed said the management was in touch with the administration, the ACMS and the Assam Tea Planters’ Association (the garden is an ATPA member), to create a congenial environment for resumption of work.

The president and secretary of Konapathar garden workers’ union, Manjit Bagh and M. Hasa, today discussed drafting of a memorandum, requesting reopening of the estate at the earliest, with office-bearers at the Margherita unit of ACMS, the unit’s secretary Hari Nandan Gour said.

“Tomorrow or day after, we will submit the memorandum to the administration and management, requesting them to hold talks with representatives of the garden’s workers’ union and the ACMS,” Gour said. He added that ACMS members were keeping a close watch on the garden so that “outside elements” could not create trouble and the garden’s labourers were guarding the estate’s assets.

Margherita circle officer Bipul Das said the administration was working to organise talks between the parties concerned so that steps could be taken for return of normalcy.


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