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Century-old Tripura tea estate closes down following violence

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Agartala, Jan 16 (UNI) Following a violent attack on General Manager and Assistant Manager of the Murticherra tea estate, which was prompted by the dispute over non-payment of wages to the workers due to insolvency, the authority closed down the biggest and century-old tea garden of Kailashahar in Unokoti district on Monday.

The garden authority lodged an FIR against the accused but no arrest was made yet. However, the police sources said a local BJP leader of Kailashahar was behind the incident who had been pressurizing General Manager to pay Rs 25 lakh fund for the ensuing assembly poll for the past few days.

After being denied of getting money, the leader instigated the workers against the garden authority and allegedly mobilized them to stage a protest seeking clearance of their dues.

According to report, the Murticherra tea estate has been suffering from a financial crisis for the last few years and after the Covid pandemic, it turned serious.

Over 500 workers in the garden have not been paid properly, the ration supply was not regular, and other amenities including healthcare facilities were discontinued.

The garden authority owes more than Rs 8 lakh. Meantime, General Manager Rajkumar Gupta has received the request for election funding from the leader, which he refused citing the reason for insolvency.

Immediately, after the refusal of election funding on Saturday the workers resorted to a protest in demand of releasing their pending wages. Despite repeated appeals and assurance of making payment of their dues within a short period, the tea workers continued to protest, Gupta stated.

“At a point, the situation turned volatile as the workers assaulted me and my Assistant Manager Somnath Chakraborty. Somehow, we managed to escape the murderous attempt and saved our lives. An FIR was lodged at Kailashahar police station along with CCTV footage but police couldn’t arrest any of the accused so far,” Gupta told media.

Besides security issues and increasing debt burden, the management has decided to close down the garden for an indefinite period, and accordingly, notice has been erected in all the gates and entire activities have been suspended until further notice, Gupta added.

Murticherra tea garden was established in 1917 by a West Bengal-based businessman Bijoy Agarwal, and in terms of area under cropping, it is the largest tea garden in Tripura.

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