Assault slur on jawans

Jaigaon, Oct. 21: Residents of Central Dooars Tea Garden in Kalchini today alleged that the SSB jawans had beaten up many of them and ransacked their quarters.

The SSB has denied the charge.

Bikram Subedi, a resident, said he had been hit on the head and his leg had been broken by the SSB. “The jawans had dragged me out of my house and ransacked the room and broke the television set,” said Subedi who was under treatment at the Kalchini block health centre. He was later referred to the subdivisional hospital in Alipurduar.

A woman worker of the garden, Dalmaya Kajir, has got a similar complaint. “The jawans broke into my quarters when I was away and ransacked my house for no reason.”

Tension had been brewing since last Sunday when the border guards stopped three jeeps carrying players and supporters who were going to the garden for a football match.

“They stopped the vehicles on the pretext that they were over-loaded and picked up an argument.Suddenly the personnel started beating us up with lathis,” said Samir Thapa, a worker who was part of the football team.

This morning, a group of garden residents went to the SSB camp to settle the matter. But the jawans allegedly beat them up. The personnel then came to the garden and attacked them. “Deokumar Thapa, Biswaranjan Kanji, both workers of the garden, and Kamal Sharma, an ex-serviceman, were assaulted by the jawans,” a worker said. “The second shift of workers did not report for duty because of the tension in the garden.”

The officer-in-charge of the Kalchini police station, R. Chhetri, later inspected the garden with his team and received a complaint from the workers.

B. B. Gurung, the commandant of the 30th Battalion of the SSB, however, denied the charge.

“On Sunday, our jawans asked the three drivers of the vehicles which were overloaded where they were going. The garden residents then abused us. In the evening, about 500 people came to the camp and attacked us. One of the workers Bikram Subedi threw stone at a jawan, injuring him seriously. The injured has been admitted to the air force hospital at Hasimara,” Gurung said.

The additional police superintendent of Alipurduar, S. R. Mishra, said steps would be taken on the basis of the complaint.