Cops Blame Tea Carnage On Delay

Dalgaon (Beerpara), Nov 7: | Updated: Nov 8 2003, 05:30am hrs
The Dalgaon Tea Estate carnage, which took 19 lives on Thursday, could have been easily avoided if the management of the RN Tantia-controlled tea estate had not delayed in calling the police when the mass fury against local CPM leader and an employee of the tea estate Tarakeswar Lohar was about to erupt.

Additional superintendent of police (Alipurduar) R Rajshekharan told FE on Friday that the tea-estate management should have informed the police over telephone, once the local workers and students started assembling at the football ground near Mr Lohars residence. Instead, they sent an assistant manager by a vehicle to Falakata police station, which is 22km away from estate, at around 8.30am, which is somewhat the same time the scuffle started. However, later they called up the nearby Beerpara police station, but by the time police reached the spot around 9.30am, everything was over, Mr Rajshekharan said.

Although Mr Lohar could manage to escape with his wife, two sons and one daughter, his other 19 associates were burnt to death. Had the police been informed earlier, we could have arrived much before and take adequate precaution to avoid such an incident, Mr Rajshekharan said.

However, commercial manager of the Dalgaon Tea Estate BL Bothra summarily rejected the allegations and said, we called up the police first and due to their delay in arrival we had sent one of our officers later, so that he can come back with the police as early as possible.

Meanwhile, Mr Rajshekharan said that Mr Lohar had ill repute and he was always accompanied by musclemen who used to carry firearms with them. He also admitted that resentment among the tea estate workers and local students against Mr Lohar was mounting for quite some time. The reason is simple. Mr Lohar was the uncrowned king of the estate and even the management of the tea estate was a puppet in his hand, he said.

The additional SP also said that the provocation for the November 6 incident came from Mr Lohars side too. There was resentment among the locals regarding the appointment of three clerks in the estate, who were recruited from outside. The locals believe that Mr Lohar arranged for their appointment in connivance with the management against a handsome bribe.