‘Suspicion on NDFB (Ranjan Daimary faction)’

Killing of a tea planter in Sonitpur district of Assam by suspected militants of National Democratic Front of Boroland (Ranjan Daimary faction) on Tuesday has jolted the tea industry in the State. “Assassination of Adilur Rahman, proprietor of Mahaluxmi and Tezalpatty tea estates, is the second big jolt to the tea industry in Assam over the past two decades, the first big jolt to the industry being in 1990 when militants gunned down tea planter Surendra Paul in upper Assam. For, this has happened at a time when the industry has started making investments for setting up tea factories, replanting and rejuvenating in the gardens, focusing on quality of tea after overcoming seven years of recession. It is very unfortunate that such an incident has occurred when tea industry in Assam has been gearing up for next 50 years by ploughing back the money that is now being earned after seven long years of recession during which survival of the industry was at stake,” said Bidyananda Barkakoty, Chairman of North Eastern Tea Association (NETA).

‘Finest maker of tea’

Describing Rahman as one of the finest makers of Assam tea, Mr. Barkakoty told The Hindu that Mahaluxmi tea garden earned the distinction of first tea garden in the country to fetch Rs. 302 for each kilogram of CTC tea in February, which was the all time highest. He also said that Rahman was a backbone of Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) and he used to route entire produce from his gardens, about 10 lakh kg through GTAC.

Assam Home Secretary G.D. Tripathi said that all efforts would be made to bring the culprits behind killing of the tea planter to book. “It is a big incident and we have it very seriously. We are aware of the deep psychological impact of Rahman’s killing on the industry and launched a full scale operation to nab the culprits,” he said and indicted that the State government has sensed that only a strong action to bring the culprits to book would restore the confidence of the tea industry.

The 47-year-old tea planter was killed when suspected militants ambushed his vehicle around 1.30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon when he was going back to his tea estate from Tezalpatty tea estate after overseeing the construction of a tea factory. Police said that Rahman was on the wheels when his vehicle was ambushed.

His PSO Motilal Tirkey opened retaliatory fire in a bid to give cover to Rahman. However, the militants sprayed fire from automatic weapons with six bullets piercing the body of the tea planter killing him on the spot. The PSO, who was on the front seat, survived with bullet wound.