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Tata Tea refutes allegations of funding terrorists

Tata Tea Ltd has refuted allegations that it is funding terrorists in Assam. The company's denial comes amid questions raised over the payment of hospital bills of Pranati Deka, a United Liberation Front of Asom activist who recently delivered a baby at the Jaslok hospital in Bombay.

According to a company statement, Tata Tea had started a special medical aid scheme in January for people seeking genuine medical relief. Deka was one of the cases referred for treatment for a serious blood disorder during her pregnancy. The cost of her treatment amounted to Rs 75,000, the statement added.

The company said it is co-operating with the authorities investigating the case and added it will review the medical scheme and discontinue it if it is not able to eliminate its misuse.

"An aberration in the implementation of the scheme at the local level cannot be treated as a justification for the sort of sweeping allegations of funding and collaborating with ULFA, especially when the many welfare schemes of the company involve hundreds of cases every month," the statement said.

The company said it has steadfastly refused to yield to extortionist pressure even in the most intimidating conditions, despite the tea industry in Assam being subjected to intense pressure for almost 10 years.

The tea company has 175 managers with their families and over 20,000 workers and other employees in 21 tea gardens, the statement said, pointing out that company scientist Dr Skaria was shot dead in Nagaon in 1991. On other occasions, Tata Tea executives have also been abducted.

Tata Tea officials probed on alleged nexus with ULFA

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