Shock, protests over Assam planter killing

The gunning down of a prominent tea planter by suspected anti-talks NDFB militants in north Assam Tuesday has sent shock waves across the Rs 6,000-crore tea industry that continues to be the backbone of the state's economy.

The 21st planter to have been killed by militant groups in Assam, Adilur Rahman was also a director of Hotel Dynasty, Guwahati's first four-star hotel. His two estates together produce about 10 lakh kg of tea per annum.

Rahman was shot around 12.30 pm as he was going from the Tejalpatti tea estate to the Mahaluxmi estate. Both estates are located close to the Assam-Arunachal border and belong to Mohijuli Tea Company, of which he was the proprietor. The area is a stronghold of the anti-talks faction of the NDFB (National Democratic Front of Bodoland).

Dhiraj Kakati, secretary of the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association, attacked the government for failure to contain militant groups. "They (the rebels) chose a soft target and intend to terrorise the tea industry that had started to look up after a series of adversities," he said. The last killing of a planter was six years ago.

Rahman's killing has seen spontaneous protests near his properties. Rahman's family also owns an automobile car dealership in Guwahati. The police have rounded up at least six suspects, Sonitpur SP Apurba Jiban Baruah said.

While Rahman's PSO Motilal Tirkey put up a fight, the assailants first shot him and then chased Rahman and shot him at least six times.

Kakati said while there was an Assam Tea Plantation Security Force, PSOs such as Tirkey stood no chance against militant groups.

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