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Boy death sparks garden fury

- Mob torches tea estate medical officer’s bungalow after ‘electrocution’

Sivasagar, July 21: Amgoorie tea estate in Sivasagar district today continued to be on the boil following the death of an eight-year-old boy who reportedly died of electrocution around 5.30pm yesterday.

Agitated labourers set fire to the medical officer’s bungalow in the tea estate last evening protesting against Bijoy Telenga’s death. Several workers barged into the bungalow, damaged furniture and household items and finally set it on fire, sources said. The protesters also set fire to a vehicle belonging to the medical officer. Nobody was in the bungalow at the time of the attack.

Timely intervention of security forces, however, prevented further trouble in the area.

Today, the labourers refused to take Telenga’s body after post-mortem. They demanded that the medical officer of the tea estate, Kabir Hussain, and guard of the bungalow, Sunil Karmakar, be produced before them. The workers said Karmakar was responsible for switching on the electricity connection to the wires which allegedly hung from the fruit trees on the bungalow premises.

Agitated workers held several rounds of meetings at the tea estate today to discuss the steps to be taken following the incident. They unanimously decided to abstain from work till the management met their demands.

The workers alleged that Hussain had attached electrical wires to the trees around his bungalow to prevent anyone from plucking fruits from trees on the premises. Sources said the boy had reportedly entered the bungalow premises to pluck jackfruits.

The All Tea Tribe Students’ Association (ATTSA) has prepared a separate memorandum to be handed over to the tea estate management. The association has demanded the arrest of the medical officer and his dismissal. It has also demanded Rs 50 lakh compensation to the next of kin of the boy.

Sivasagar sub-divisional officer (Sadar) Richand Ahmed, who visited the tea estate along with police and some officials today, said they had invited Akhil Tiwari, senior manager of the tea estate, to hold discussions with the workers.

“We have requested him to pay a preliminary compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the dead. However, we have not received any commitment from him as yet. He has also so far not come for discussion with the workers citing security reason,” Ahmed said.

Additional police and CRPF forces have been deployed at the tea estate.

The tea estate, which is situated along the Assam-Nagaland border near Haluating, is about 30km from Sivasagar, which is 360km from Guwahati. The tea estate is owned by Goodricke Tea Company.

“The bungalow was thoroughly checked, but we did not find anybody inside,” additional superintendent of police, Sivasagar, Lamhao Doungel, said.

Police have detained Karmakar and he is being questioned at Haluating police station. Hussain could not be contacted and his whereabouts are not known. Doungel said the medical officer could not be located and that attempts are being made to track him down.