Unidentified miscreants from Nagaland fired at the assistant manager of Seleng tea estate in Jorhat district located at the Assam-Nagaland border at about 9.30 on Tuesday morning.
Jorhat SP Vaibhav Nimbalkar and a posse of policemen rushed to the spot on receiving news of the incident.
Nimbalkar told Northeast Now that assistant manager Surya Debnath and few workers were at sector 7 of Seleng tea estate and were spraying pesticides when they spotted two armed men in the vicinity.
The two men reportedly asked Debnath to stop when he was fleeing on his motorbike following which gun shots were heard.
“The two might have fired in the air but it could not be ascertained as to which firearm was used as no spent cartridge was recovered from the spot, ” Nimbalkar said.
Regarding the number of miscreants, the SP said that there were different versions with some saying that there were as many as 15 to 20 who had followed the two.
It was not known if there was any extortion threat recently but the garden management had received such threat last year.
The SP said the sector is about 1.5 kms from the Rangkham border outpost and when there is work in that sector, the management usually informs the outpost and the Border police intensify patrolling then. However, on Tuesday the management of the tea estate did not inform the outpost about the work schedule.
The Rangkham BOP is less than a kilometer away from the Nagaland border.
The SP said that the OC of Longchem in Mokokchung district of Nagaland across the border was contacted and asked if they had noticed or had been informed of any suspicious movement. The villagers across the border were also questioned regarding this but no one seemed to have seen anyone or heard the gunshots.
“We also organised a peace meeting at the border to defuse any tension, ” he said.
The police are patrolling the area and have stepped up vigil to pre-empt any further strikes.
As per a directive which is renewed every three months, section 144 CrPc and night curfew have been clamped within 5 km of the Assam-Nagaland border from Monday.
Prodyut Phukan, manager of Seleng tea estate which is under Popular Tie Up Private Limited had told reporters that he had in recent weeks received extortion calls from someone claiming to be a member of a Naga militant group. The caller demanded payment of Rs 60 lakh and last year in August the outfit had demanded Rs 80 lakh. Last year a complaint had been lodged but this year they were yet to do so.
Phukan said that Debnath had told him that four rounds had been fired but that he had managed to flee and that the workers too had fled in fear.
Phukon said that despite the panic, work would resume tomorrow with an adequate police force to provide security.
It has been apprehended that large scale unrest and violence may prevail after the final draft of the National Register of Citizens is published on July 30.
Large contingents of security forces including CISF and CRPF personnel are being deployed in each district to quell such violence.
As per reports by intelligence wings, militant groups might carry out subversive activities and strikes taking advantage of this situation.