One person was killed and two others including a security personnel was injured when unidentified miscreants fired upon a van that was on its way to collect cash meant for disbursement of salary and wages for labourers and employees of a tea estate in Tinsukia district close to the interstate boundary with Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday. The involvement of ULFA in the incident has not been ruled out.
“The van was on its way to Doomdooma to collect the cash which was drawn from the SBI on Tuesday and was kept in the Doomdooma police station for the night because they did not have adequate security on Tuesday. We are yet to ascertain the identity of the miscreants who fired from an automatic weapon,” Tinsukia SP Mugdhajyoti Dev Mahanta said. The tea estate belongs to the Assam Frontier Tea Company.
While two persons – an employee of the Pengeri tea estate and a security personnel – were shifted to AMC Hospital in Dibrugarh with serious bullet injuries, one Abhijit Paul, who had taken a lift was killed. Paul, the SP said, is an idol-maker who had gone to the tea estate to collect his bill for supplying idols he had supplied for durga puja, lakshmi puja and kali puja last month.
SP Mahanta said the miscreants attacked from inside dense forest on the Pengeri-Digboi Road, about 11 kms short of Digboi. The area, which was once a major ULFA-infested area of upper Assam, has a history of militant attacks in the past several years.
Meanwhile, condemning the incident, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday announced an ex-gratia grant of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of Abhijit Paul, the tea estate employee who was killed in the militant attack at Pengeri. Sonowal also instructed state DGP Mukesh Sahay to go all-out to apprehend the culprits. State industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowari, accompanied by MLAs Bhaskar Sarma and Suren Phukan, has rushed to Pengeri to take stock of the situation.
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