Tezpur, Aug. 3: Militants belonging to the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) yesterday roughed up eight small tea planters near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Sonitpur district for their failure to make regular payments to the outfit.
The militants first attacked five planters at Jogibeel, about 55km from here and thereafter three others at Urahiloga, about 45km from here under Rangapara police station.
Three planters, Arun Rabha, 40, Anand Daimari, 40, and Kanak Daimari 38, were admitted to Tezpur’s Kana-klata civil hospital last night. The condition of Kanak is stated to be serious.
The five other planters suffered mild injuries and were administered first aid in a hospital in Rangapara.
“We were coming from our tea garden when three armed NDFB (S) militants asked us to bow our heads. They then beat us black and blue with bamboo sticks,” Rabha told this correspondent at the civil hospital here.
The incident took place at Mainasiri near Urahiloga.
Rabha said he was certain they were militants as the same group of men had come to ask for money earlier. He said in the past they had refused to give in to the group’s extortion demands.
Anand Daimari, the elder brother of Kanak, said the group used to regularly demand money from them.
One of Daimari’s relatives has filed an FIR at Rangapara police station saying the Songbijit faction was responsible for the attack.
Sonitpur superintendent of police Sanjukta Parasor told The Telegraph over phone that though threatened regularly, this is the first time that the villagers have told the police that the attackers were members of the Songbijit faction of the NDFB.
The incident has put the administration on alert with additional security personnel moved to the area to thwart such attacks, sources said.
Anand said three armed militants gheraoed them at the weekly market near Urahiloga and attacked them with bamboo sticks.
“They later attacked my brother Kanak and his wife at our residence. My younger brother is seriously injured,” he said.
There are over 12,000 small tea growers in Sonitpur district who produce an average 6 lakh kg green leaves every day.
Kumud Saikia, the assistant secretary of Sonitpur District Small Tea Growers’ Association, condemned the attack and said the association would look into the matter.
“We vehemently condemn the incident and will take up the matter. We have over 12,000 small tea growers and a majority of them have had to deal with such demands of militants in the past,” Saikia said.
Sources said the NDFB (S) is holed up in the northern bank near the Arunachal border and despite regular operations by the security forces in Rangapara and Chariduar, incidents such as these are regular occurrences.