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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Killings spark tension in tea belt - Hundreds from tea tribe lay siege to village in Doomdooma

Article from 09 June 2009
The Telegraph in Kolkata

Dibrugarh, June 8: Tension gripped the tea belt of Doomdooma in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district following the murder of two persons belong to the tea community late last night.

Police said Maghen Moran, a resident of Jutlibari village, murdered two of his neighbours Nareswar Murah and Sarban Tanti and critically injured another, Monoj Murah, after a quarrel broke out between them last night.

Monoj, who was stabbed with a sharp weapon, is battling for his life at the Assam Medical College and Hospital.

As news of the killing spread, hundreds of people from the tea community from neighbouring tea gardens like Daisajan, Doimukhia and Rupai descended on the Moran-dominated village early this morning and laid a siege. Some of them were armed with traditional bows and arrows.

Fearing retaliation, most Moran tribals fled the village to safer locations.

Jutlibari, which has a mixed population of Morans, Ahoms and former tea garden labourers, is about 20km from Doomdooma police station and is surrounded by several tea gardens.

Tinsukia deputy commissioner K.K. Dwivedi and superintendent of police Diganta Bora rushed to the spot this morning and were camping there with a huge contingent of security forces to prevent any outbreak of ethnic violence.

Bora said over telephone the situation was very tense but under control.

“We have deployed additional forces in the vulnerable area and more forces are being called in. We cannot allow this small incident to spill over into anything major,” he added.

Rupesh Gowala, the secretary of the Doomdooma branch of the Asom Chah Mazdoor Sangha, said, “We have appealed for calm but the agitated people are in no mood to listen. They are also not paying any attention to requests from the administration.”

The people demanded arrest and exemplary punishment to the culprit within 12 hours, a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the victims, their proper rehabilitation, medical care for the injured and a written assurance from the administration that such incident will not take place in the future.

A delegation of the Moran Students Union, which tried to enter the conflict zone to take stock of the situation, was sent back by the administration to ensure that the situation remains under control.

“We appeal to all sections of society to maintain peace. We assure that the guilty will definitely be punished,” an official from the Tinsukia district administration said.

Bora said a massive manhunt had been launched to nab the culprit and he would be arrested soon.

“Search teams have been sent in various directions to track the culprit. Law will take its own course. Hence people should not try to take the law into their own hand. We will not be a mute spectator if anybody tries to take the law in his hand,” he added.

The protesters lifted the siege this evening.

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