Mariani, May 24: Suspected Ulfa militants shot dead the assistant manager of the Dhekiajuli branch of the Soycotta tea estate today and fled with Rs 80,000.
Kandarpa Das was travelling with a tea estate colleague, Pradip Gogoi, and head clerk Dilip Saikia in an Ambassador car when the militants struck around 3.15 pm. Das was rushed to the estate hospital but died soon afterwards. He is survived by his wife and seven-year-old son.
Das was carrying money meant to pay the weekly labour dues at the Dhekiajuli and Soycotta estates belonging to the Assam Tea Corporation Limited. Das and his co-passengers were coming from the Katonibari division of the garden after having paid the dues there.
Jorhat superintendent of police, P.C. Saloi, said three motorcycle-borne assailants waylaid the car near Bhuyan basti on the Katonibari-Soycotta road. One attacker shot Das in the neck and they fled with the bag containing the money. “Since the assailants were armed with guns, it is possible they may be militants,” Saloi said.
The killing comes in the wake of reports that the United Liberation Front of Asom has launched an extortion drive in upper Assam to collect Rs 200 crore quickly. The banned outfit has reportedly issued extortion notices to businessmen and tea garden authorities, but police deny this.