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Mridul Bhattacharyya, Assam Tea Estate Owner, Killed In Fire By Workers In India

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MRIDUL BHATTACHARYYA
A woman collects tea leaves. (AFP/Getty Images) | Getty Images

GAUHATI, India -- Hundreds of tea estate workers surrounded the plantation owner's home in India's northeastern state of Assam and set it on fire over a labor dispute, killing him and his wife, police said Thursday.

Police recovered the charred bodies of the couple, Mridul Kumar Bhattacharyya and his wife, Rita, from the burned remains of their house in Tinsukhia district, police Superintendent P.P. Singh said.

The plantation had been rocked by labor trouble over the past few weeks and some workers had been suspended two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, around 700 workers armed with bows and poison-tipped arrows surrounded the house and set it on fire, trapping the couple. The house had burned down by the time police reached the remote region in Tinsukhia.

Police are investigating but no arrests have been made, Singh said.

The estate is about 700 kilometers (435 miles) northeast of Assam's capital, Gauhati.

More than half of India's tea production comes from some 1,000 tea estates across Assam. Tea plantations, also known as `gardens,' employ thousands of women, especially for plucking the leaves from tea bushes.

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