One killed as Assam tea planter opens fire at irate mob

Guwahati, March 22 – A schoolboy was killed and four injured Monday when a tea planter, accused of physically abusing a tribal woman, opened fired on an irate group of garden workers in Assam, police said.

A police spokesperson said the incident took place at the Rani tea estate on the outskirts of Guwahati when hundreds of locals and plantation workers went berserk after the tea planter, Mridul Kumar Bhattacharjee, attacked the woman.

‘A tribal woman from a nearby village was taking a short cut through the garden to reach another village when the planter caught hold of her and started beating her and also tore her clothes. Soon a large number of locals and garden workers arrived and tried to attack the planter who then took out a licensed weapon and fired at the mob,’ a police official said.

A Class 8 student Pradep Murali was killed and four more, including a woman, were injured in the firing.

‘The planter managed to escape and went into hiding,’ the official said.

The mob then set ablaze two factories and several offices and vehicles of the garden and prevented fire tenders and police from arriving at the spot.

‘Women and children sat and some of them slept on the road preventing fire engines from entering the garden,’ the official said.

The Rani tea estate is a privately owned medium sized plantation located close to the airport.