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More planters beaten up

Tezpur, Aug. 11: The NDFB (Songbijit faction) continued its attack on small tea planters in Sonitpur district and injured two more last night at Mainasiri under Rangapara police station near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

Baula Basumatary, 39, and Rugi Basumatary, 40, were admitted to Rangapara hospital after they were beaten up by cadres of the NDFB (S).

On August 2, the group had beaten up eight tea planters from Jogibeel and Mainasiri allegedly for not paying up.

Arun Rabha, Anand Daimari and Kanak Daimari, three of the eight persons, were admitted to Tezpur Kanaklata civil hospital on that night.

Two days later, three more planters were attacked.

Mainasiri is about 45km from Tezpur and 12km from Rangapara police station. It is 220km from Guwahati.

Superintendent of police, Sonitpur, Sanjukta Parasar, today said security forces were carrying out a joint combing operation on the north bank of the Brahmaputra near the border areas where the NDFB(S) is said to be active.

A complaint had been lodged by the injured planters at Rangapara police station, she said.

Baula Basumatary said a group of four armed cadres of the NDFB (S) came to their home at Mainasiri around 8.30pm and beat them up with bamboo sticks.

The attackers said they were being “punished” because they did not shell out money and were not “cooperating” with them.

The small tea growers in Sonitpur district have been facing threats from militant groups, mostly NDFB (S), and those refusing to pay are threatened with dire consequences.

There are over 12,000 small tea growers who produce an average 6 lakh kg of green leaf daily, but most of them are asked by the militant group to shell out money regularly.

The NDFB (S) is also demanding money from owners of small passenger vehicles plying in the area. They are forced to pay Rs 5,000 each annually and each family is also forced to pay a “tax” of Rs 20 to Rs 30 every month, villagers said.


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