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|October 8, 1997||
Tata Tea now linked to Bodo militants
Documents reveal that the Tata Tea paid Rs 46,520 to a travel agent, Patsons Travels at Ganeshgurt in Guwahati, as the airfare for four militants of the so-called National Democratic Front of Bodoland to travel to New Delhi to attend a crucial meeting with the company bosses.
According to a top-level police source, the Special Operations Unit of the Assam police has conclusive evidence that the meeting took place in the third week of February at the five-star Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi where two senior executives from Tata Tea were present.
Although the exact agenda is not yet known, the police suspect it as another attempt from Tata Tea to come to some sort of an understanding with the Bodo militants, who are currently ruling the boost in northern Assam near the Indo-Bhutan border.
The SOU has summoned both Tata Tea Managing Director R K Krishna Kumar and Executive Director S M Kidwai for further interrogation in this regard. Kidwai was due to arrive in Guwahati on Wednesday to appear before the SOU while Krishna Kumar will be arriving on Saturday, October 11.
According to the police source, this case is far more serious than the ULFA nexus because here there might be evidence of Tata Tea directly financing the much-wanted Bodo militants. According to the source, investigators have already recovered documents of Tata Tea paying money to Patsons Travels for the militants. The tickets were booked on the false names of D Sangma, H S Wary, D James, and G Deka.
The militants left for New Delhi on February 11, but the payment was made on February 8. The militants were put up in a five-star hotel.
The source clarified that the Bodo nexus was not gleaned from the revelation through the recent telephone tapping but was basically based on the information revealed by Brojen Gogoi and other Tata Tea executives during interrogation by the police.
Regarding the Tata Tea-ULFA telephone tapping, he said, "We have a job to do. The telephone tapping is basically sensational and more interested in their corporate war. We proceed strictly by evidence and merit of the cases."
The police source did not rule out the arrest of more Tata Tea executives if information came up during the interrogation.
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