Assam tea company ignores terror threats

ULFA-I, headed by self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, in a statement, threatened that the company would not be allowed to do business in Assam

Guwahati: The Kolkata based Amalgamated Plantation Private Limited (APPL) company, which has 21 tea estates and operating units across Assam, rejected terror threats and said that it was committed to the state and its people.

The outlawed outfit — United Liberation Front of Asom – Independent (ULFA-I) – last week asked the APPL to relocate its administrative offices to Assam from Kolkata and recruit only indigenous people of the state in various positions, otherwise it would take action.

The APPL in a statement on Sunday said that the company continues to maintain their main operating office in Guwahati and have 21 tea estates and operating units across Assam, employing almost 50,000 people, including seasonal workers. “We have invested substantially in two tea processing units at Hattigor and Lattakoojan tea estates and in a spice processing centre near Misa. In addition to business investments and employment opportunities, we run various community welfare initiatives for livelihood, education, skill development and healthcare, that have positively impacted the lives of about 2.5 lakh people in Assam over the last 5 years,” the APPL said.

The statement further said: “We are saddened by the recent allegations and their tonality, based on a misplaced understanding of our efforts in the state. We will seek intervention of the appropriate authorities to protect the interests of our employees and facilities in Assam.”

The outlawed ULFA-I, headed by self-styled commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, in a statement, threatened that the company would not be allowed to do business in Assam and no personnel of the company would be allowed to travel in the state for work purposes.

Accusing the tea company of “exploiting” Assam’s indigenous people, the ULFA-I statement had said: “You have your company’s head office outside Assam where no indigenous personnel from the state is engaged. The liaison office is also not in Assam. You have an administrative office in Assam indeed. But, amazingly, this administrative office is run by temporary contract staff.”

Meanwhile, the ULFA-I has recently released radio operator Ram Kumar, a resident of Bihar, drilling superintendent Pranab Kumar Gogoi of Assam’s Sivasagar district, after more than 104 days after they were abducted from Arunachal Pradesh on December 21 last year. Both Kumar and Gogoi are the employees of the Delhi based private oil and gas exploration company — Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Ltd.

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