DIBRUGARH, July 29 - Two leading organisations of the tea garden working communities – All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AASAA) and Assam Tea Tribes’ Students Association (ATTSA) in Tingkhong on Friday demanded the arrest of Boldeb Teli, leader of the Adivasi Chah Janagosthi Suraksha Samiti, for allegedly fuelling tension in Shalmari tea estate.
The Shalmari TE is in a tense situation following dispute between two factions of the workers over ownership of the garden. The abandoned garden, earlier owned by Annanda Tea Company Private Limited, was recently taken possession by Pratap Kochar led Jainex Tea Company Private Limited under the patronage of the local administration. Kochar had sought possession, claiming that their company had won the entitlement through auction conducted by The Assam Cooperative Apex Bank Limited, which had attached the garden property.
However, one faction of the workers led by Boldeb Teli is reportedly opposed to the new company taking possession of the tea estate. Teli’s faction has claimed that the TE workers had authorised them to manage the garden, and, therefore, they had the right to harvest the green tea leaves.
Four members of the Teli’s faction, including Suresh Murah, Sankar Kishan, Vinod Porjah and Daulat Garh were arrested by the police on Thursday for allegedly stealing the green tea leaves from the garden. Boldeb Teli’s faction reportedly resorted to road blockade near Teenali TE in protest against the arrest. They demanded that the police release those arrested unconditionally. Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the road for several hours following the blockade.
Meanwhile, both AASAA and ATTSA staged a ‘thana gherao’ on Friday, demanding arrest of Boldeb Teli for creating law-and-order problem in the garden.