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Militants abduct tea executive in Assam
K Anurag in Guwahati | February 28, 2007 10:02 IST
Police suspect a newly-formed tribal militant outfit to behind the abduction.
Police informed that suspected militants abducted the manager of Shyamraipur Tea Estate, R K Singh, at gunpoint near his official bungalow under Numaligarh Police station of Golaghat district while he was returning from Golaghat town.
The militants, who were waiting near the tea estate, commandeered the tea executive out his car at gunpoint and took him away leaving behind the car and his driver. Police believe that the kidnappers had taken the tea executive to the adjoining Karbi Anglong hill district, which is infested with tribal insurgents.
The executives working in tea estates of Assam stand vulnerable to militants' threat given the interior locations of the tea gardens and lack of security cover. The tea estates are soft targets of militants' extortion demands. Assam police has found it difficult to provide security to tea executives manning over 800 tea estates in the state.
Although there is a special armed force called Assam Tea Plantation Protection Force, most of tea gardens, except those owned by top-bracket tea companies, can't afford to hire the service of the special force.
The ATPPF was raised by Assam government and its personnel were recruited and trained by Assam police in 1990s on request from tea companies, which were then bearing the brunt of insurgency in the state, especially in the tea rich Upper Assam and Barak Valley belts.
Tea companies, which hire the services of the ATPPF to provide security to their executives in tea estates, are required to provide accommodation and food to the ATPPF personnel besides paying for their salaries.
A tea industry source informed that given the lean phase that has been prevailing in the tea market for last few years, many tea companies have found it a costly affair to maintain troops of ATPPF personnel in their gardens as it adds to the cost of production of tea.