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September 24, 1997


Tata Tea executive Gogoi arrested for links to ULFA

Tata Tea executive Dr Brajen Gogoi surrendered before the Assam police at the Borjhar airport on Wednesday morning.

Dr Gogoi, who was alleged to have personally handled the link between the militant organisation and the tea major, arrived from Calcutta in an Indian Airlines flight and was immediately taken into custody by the Special Operating Unit of the Assam police.

Dr Gogoi, the senior community development officer of the Tata Tea based at Guwahati was in the United States when the alleged nexus between Tata Tea and the United Liberation Front of Asom came to light with the arrest of ULFA 'cultural secretary' Pranati Deka at Bombay.

Gogoi, just before being whisked away by the police at the Borjhar airport VIP lounge, maintained that both he and his company were innocent.

"I am not a fugitive nor do I have any links with the secessionist organisations like ULFA. I merely acted on the instruction of our Calcutta office. Do you think I would have gone with Pranati Deka to Bombay had I known her real identity? Do you think I am that insane to jeopardise my own professional career by moving around with her? This is all false and I have been made a scapegoat. I genuinely tried to help her on the instructions of the Calcutta office."

Meanwhile, the Assam government is considering organising the massive labour force of the tea estates to protect the industry from insurgents.

Talking to the media on Tuesday, Assam Chief Secretary V S Jafa said he would place the matter before the proposed meeting with the Consultative Committee of Planters' Association sometime next month.

Earlier, he chaired the monthly strategy group meeting with general officer commander-in-chief, 4 Corps, Lt Gen R K Swahney, state Director-General of Police K Hrishikesh, and top officials of the army, police, and civil administration who attended the meeting.

The chief of staff, Eastern Command, Lt Gen A R K Reddy also attended.

Both Jafa and General Swahney, however, refused to give details of the discussion but hinted that the ongoing offensive against those aiding and abetting the militants would continue.

They said the crackdown would now extend to the state government departments and individuals who were found helping the militants.

Regarding the idea of using the labour force against the ultras, Jafa said it would be a potent weapon as each of the tea estates had around 200-2000 labourers.

''The state government should have no problem in providing them license to buy arms and meet the challenge on their own. This is much better than paying money to ULFA and the National Democratic Front for Bodos to buy peaces.''

General Swahney was more forthright, saying that buying peace by anyone was the most easy solution and that could not be accepted. ''It is we who are facing the maximum damage. We are losing our men at the hands of ultras.''

The chief secretary said, ''Most of the tea companies never bothered to tell us what was their exact security-related problems.'' He informed that in the proposed meeting with the CCPA, he would ask about specific details of security-related problems that the tea industry was facing.

General Swahney admitted that the Bodo insurgency was much more complex than the ULFA insurgency, but added that 32 hardcore insurgents had been eliminated in the past month.

The chief secretary said that the offensive against the funding to the militants would be concentrated on three state government departments: forest, transport and tax, from where huge funds had been diverted to the coffers of the militants.

Assam govt alleges Tata had tacit deal with ULFA
Mahanta vows tough action against cos backing ULFA
Gujral did not meet Ratan Tata; Dogra remanded to 14 days judicial custody
Assam police arrest Tata Tea GM Dogra for nexus with ULFA
Union home ministry denies interfering in Tata Tea case
Tata Tea denies charges of nexus with ULFA
Tata Tea officials probed on alleged nexus with ULFA

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