Guwahati: Suspecting that some external forces, especially students’ bodies, might be involved in the recent killing of senior resident doctor Deben Dutta at Teok Tea Estate in Assam’s Jorhat district, a managing trustee of Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) Foundation, alleged that such unwanted forces were intervening into the managerial decisions and trying to provoke workers against the company management, leading to violence in tea gardens over the years.
The ill-fated tea estate, where the incident took place on August 31, is owned by APPL.
Expressing serious concern over the increasing and forceful involvement of these ‘forces’ in affairs between tea estate management and the workers to gain their vested interests, Dhiraj Kakati, managing trustee of APPL Foundation, in an exclusive interview with EastMojo, further said that such incidents will continue to happen in Assam tea gardens until and unless the authorities concerned fail to put a brake on such illegal intrusion.
“Such kind of incidents will keep on repeating as long as outside forces continue to intervene in the management’s decisions in tea estates. It is rather surprising to see that no unions or student organisations, who commit to work for welfare of the tea community, have come up with any solution to such problems over the years,” he added.
Speaking to EastMojo, Kakati said, “The members of such organisations are neither a work bid, nor union and they are not even authorised dependents since all members are above 18 years of age. These are the people who try to ignite trouble in tea gardens to a large extent.”
He further went on to express that in his over four-decade-long association with the tea industry, he has come across several heinous crimes committed against the management for no apparent justifiable reasons by these organisations.
“Killing a 75-year-old doctor, who has been serving humanity and benefiting the community voluntarily, is not a solution to the problems,” Kakati said.
He, however, accepted the failure of the management in delivering proper health services in some of their tea gardens. The APPL management trustee also expressed that the government should take hold and take care of the medical establishments that are being run by the authorities of tea estates, as workers are losing confidence in the management over the years.
Meanwhile, condoling the gruesome incident that happened in Teok Tea Estate, the CSR wing of APPL in a statement has expressed deep shock at the brutal killing of Dr Dutta, whose professional career spanned over 46 long years in the tea estate.
It further stated that the foundation has been supporting the improvement in quality of life through medical interventions like e-hospitals, fungal free focks (for prevention of fungal infections), menstrual hygiene programme, nutrition supplementation to pregnant and lactating mothers, adult learning programme, etc, in the tea estates under APPL.
“APPL has also set up two skill development centres in Rowta and Chabua, which provide training and placements in other short-term trades in effort of giving an alternate means to livelihood to tea tribes and members of the community at large,” the statement added.
Dutta, 73, a senior resident doctor, was beaten to death by garden workers after one of their co-workers died at the hospital on August 31. The doctor died while on the way to Jorhat Medical College. Dr Dutta had retired a long time ago but was serving on extension at the tea estate and is considered to be one of the senior-most doctors in Jorhat.