Tea garden employees robbed of Rs 26 lakh at gunpoint near Siliguri
A group of armed burglars held three employees of a tea estate at gunpoint on the outskirts of Siliguri on Thursday afternoon and decamped with around Rs 26 lakh that was to be disbursed as wages among workers.
Sources said three employees of the Thanjhora tea estate located in Kharibari block of Siliguri subdivision had drawn the cash from a bank in Siliguri.
“The trio were intercepted by the miscreants while returning to the garden with the cash. The amount was supposed to be paid as wages to the tea workers,” said a source.
Sumit Ghosh, secretary of north Bengal branch of Tea Association of India (TAI), said: “An SUV intercepted the vehicle ferrying the trio to the estate at a locality under Kharibari police station of Darjeeling district. A man, who was donning a fatigue and carrying a firearm, came out of it and asked the driver to get down and fired blanks. Meanwhile, another four-five youths on bikes reached the spot. They held the garden employees and the driver at gunpoint and decamped with the cash that was in a trunk.”
Thanjhora tea estate is a member-garden of the association.
In recent years, this is the first such incident of cash loot that has been reported from the Terai tea belt.
“The incident has left us worried. Managers from a number of other gardens have called us expressing concern as in most tea estates wages are disbursed in cash,” Ghosh said.
Later in the evening, the authorities of Thanjhora tea estate visited Kharibari police station and spoke with senior police officers.
The police have started an investigation into the incident and launched search to nab the burglars, said sources.