No arrest was been made till Thursday evening in connection with the killing of a tea-planter couple Mridul Kumar Bhattacharjee and Reeta Bhattacharjee, by a mob of garden workers and others at Konapathar tea estate in upper Assam’s Tinsukia district on Wednesday afternoon.
Charred bodies of the tea-planter couple were recovered from the debris of their bungalow that was set ablaze by the mob. The mob gheraoed the bungalow and torched it with the couple trapped inside.
Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram told The Hindu that the couple’s son, who flew down from Kolkata, identified the body of his mother while the other body was reduced to a cinder and charred beyond recognition.
The Assam Tea Planters’ Association has strongly condemned the incident, describing it as an “inhuman, barbaric and uncivilised act, committed by a group of workers in collusion with outsiders.”
The association, through a resolution, urged the State government, and all authorities concerned, to bring the culprits to book and punish those found guilty of committing the crime, for long term interest of peace, discipline and prosperity of the tea industry.
“This is sending a very dangerous message to the tea industry,” stated the resolution.
Chairman of the North Eastern Tea Association Bidyananda Barkakoty also described the incident as “horrific and pathetic.”
“The timely arrival of the police and the fire brigade could, probably, have saved the precious lives. Coordinated efforts by employers, employees and government need to be taken so that such gruesome incidents never happen in future,” Mr. Barkakoty said. He appealed to the State government to deploy police force, similar to the Rapid Action Force, and specially trained to control mob violence at strategic locations in the tea garden belts so that such force can reach the spot in the shortest possible time.
Apart From Konapathar tea estate, the Bhattacharjees owned two more tea estates — Satrupa and Rani tea estates.