Dibrugarh, Oct. 27: Warren Tea Limited today claimed receiving a demand note of Rs 25 lakh from the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), close on the heels of another tea industry leader, Hindustan Lever, accusing the banned outfit of slapping an extortion note.
Unlike Hindustan Lever, Warren has filed an FIR with police. The company’s registered office is located in Deohal near Bordubi in Tinsukia district.
Warren’s general manager Uddhab Sarmah said from Deohal that the manager of Duarmara Tea Estate had received the extortion note. He said the company has filed an FIR with Pengeri police. Sarmah is also the state in-charge of the company, which has 12 other tea gardens in Upper Assam — Tara, Rupai, Dheoidam, Thowra, North Balijan, Sealkotee, Balijan, Hogrijan, Hatimara, Rajaali, Deohal and Jalani. Sources put the company’s assets at over Rs 130 crore.
Sarmah said the matter has been taken up at the highest level of the state government and the director general police had been informed about the demand note. “We have also informed our head office at Calcutta and they are in consultation with the authorities concerned,” he said.
Asked if the matter has been taken up with the Centre, he pleaded ignorance, adding: “The head office might be doing so.”
Tinsukia additional superintendent of police (headquarters) Bedanta Madhab Rajkhowa said a platoon of Assam Police battalion had been posted at the tea estate and security beefed up in other gardens of the company.
The state government recently admitted that apart from Hindustan Lever, two other companies have also received extortion notes from the Ulfa.
The recent upswing in Ulfa’s activities has compelled the government to involve three superintendents of police in Tinsukia district to tackle such activities. On October 12, five businessmen who had refused to pay up were shot dead by the Ulfa at Dighaltarang Tea Estate in the district.
The army, which is in charge of the counter-insurgency operations in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh, has also launched special operations to curb militant activities and strict patrolling is maintained in the tea belts, particularly in the Doom Dooma area.