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One person was killed and two others, including a security personnel, injured when unidentified miscreants fired on a van that was on its way to collect cash meant for disbursement of wages for labourers and employees of a tea estate in Tinsukia district, close to the boundary with Arunachal Pradesh Wednesday. The involvement of the ULFA 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.
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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, another person, Abhijit Paul, who had hitched a ride, was killed. Paul, the SP said, was an idol-maker who had gone to the tea estate to collect his bill for idols he had supplied for Durga puja, Lakshmi puja and Kali puja last month.
SP Mahanta said the miscreants attacked from a dense forest on the Pengeri-Digboi road, about 11 km short of Digboi. The area, which was once an ULFA-infested region of upper Assam, has a history of militant attacks over the past several years.
Meanwhile, condemning the incident, CM Sarbananda Sonowal Wednesday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of Abhijit Paul. Sonowal instructed state DGP Mukesh Sahay to launch efforts 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.