The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Charred estate chugs to work
- DNA samples collected from kin to identify the dead

Jalpaiguri, Nov. 9: Dalgaon tea estate today resumed production in a cathartic attempt to overcome the stench of charred flesh four days after the carnage.

Though pluckers remained off the estate, factory operations, which had resumed yesterday, began in full-throttle this morning with tea being produced from the leaves lying in the factory since a mob of 1,000 burnt 19 people in a chilling turn to a recruitment row on Thursday morning.

The house of Tarakeshwar Lohar, the former Citu leader of the garden who was the target of the attack, stands half-burnt. The patches of blood have turned brown and the stench from charred decomposed flesh is overpowering, but residents are trying to get their lives back on track.

Residents of the labour lines, where Lohar stayed, have returned to their homes, which they had abandoned after the incident. Fish and vegetable vendors have resumed business, a short distance away.

Police, however, are not taking chances and are continuing to camp in the estate to boost the confidence of the shaken workers. Deepak Kujur, a labourer, said: “The situation is peaceful now. We are busy at work. But there are chances that Lohar’s accomplices, who had fled to evade arrest, might retaliate. We are thankful that the police are still with us.”

As the garden limped back to normality, the police begun collecting DNA samples from relatives of those who were in Lohar’s house at the time of the massacre for identification. Jalpaiguri superintendent Siddh Nath Gupta said: “We collected samples from the bodies yesterday and today we started collecting DNA samples from the parents and relatives of those who were in the house. We will send them to Calcutta in a few days.”

The police were faced with an identity crisis as Lohar had handed over a list of 25 people who were present at that time in his house. “Of them 19 have died, whose charred bodies have been recovered. The remaining are absconding. The bodies are beyond identification. So we have to carry out DNA testing and sort out the death list. Our officials and medical staff have started collecting the samples from parents and relatives of those mentioned in Lohar’s list. Once the samples are matched, we will get a final list of the dead,” a police official said.

All the 19 bodies were cremated last evening on the banks of the Sukti river in Birpara.

Local CPM leader Robin Rai said the party was also awaiting the DNA results. “Some (of the dead) were relatives of Lohar, the others were our members.”

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