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Garden official arrested for thrashing security guard

Amsoi (Nagaon), Jan. 2: A tea estate assistant manager was arrested in central Assam’s Nagaon district on charges of caning a permanent worker who was on duty last night.

The incident took place in Amsoi tea estate owned by Sri Krishna Tea Company. According to reports, the assistant manager of the garden, Pankaj Goraik, accompanied by head manager Jitumoni Saikia, were returning to the garden around 11.30 last night, when they found the guard at the entrance gate absent. Goraik subsequently went in search of the guard, found him and is said to have caned him in front of the main gate.

The guard — Durgeswar Tanti, 21 — was seriously injured in the incident and later admitted to the Raha community health centre, from where he was referred to Nagaon Bhugeswari Phukonani civil hospital for further treatment. Amsoi, located 75km from Guwahati, is under Raha police station in Nagaon district.

This morning, hundreds of garden labourers gheraoed the office demanding the arrest of Goraik and Saikia.

A high-level team of Nagaon police, accompanied by the additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Singharam Mili, rushed to the site after the incident.

The accused assistant manager was arrested from his garden quarters and brought to Raha police station. “The incident was not as reported by the labourers before the police. I was accused wrongly by someone who has vested interests,” Goraik said to The Telegraph. Goraik, who joined the garden as assistant manager three years back, hails from Namrup.

Nagaon deputy commissioner P. Ashok Babu said the local administration has been directed to deploy sufficient security at the garden site so that any untoward situation could be tackled at the earliest. “At present, the situation at the garden is under control. The garden workers submitted an FIR against the assistant manager, after which we conducted an investigation and apprehended him,” he said. Work at the estate remained suspended through the day as protesters refused to leave the site until the garden authorities and local administration assured them of justice. “We demand punishment according to law for the accused assistant manager, suspension of the senior manager as everything happened in front of him and an assurance from the garden authority that such incidents will not recur,” said Koilash Tanti, secretary, Amsoi Tea Estate Chah Majdoor Sangha.

“We do not want the management to continue British raj on our labourers. This is not the first incident in the garden and we want an end to it,” said Narayan Nag, joint secretary of the union.

Sri Krishna Tea Company purchased Amsoi tea estate nearly seven decades ago. It was established in 1880 on 240 hectares on the Nagaon-Karbi Anglong border. Its total area was later expanded to three divisions, covering 800 hectares.

“There is no doctor at the garden hospital. The pitiable condition of the labour quarters and apathy of the management to problems of the workers are some issues which have created a rift between labourers and the estate management,” said a local leader.